NEW YORK: Not content with trying to reinvent itself — or at least make itself more palatable for a potential takeover — HP is looking to reinvent the laser printer. Much like Apple’s Macintosh GUI, the first PC, and Ethernet, the first laser printer was created at fabled Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center); all HP did was make it very, very popular (the 200 millionth shipment was announced on November 12, 2013), and now we’re getting a new line of LaserJets.
“These are not just 5% improvements, these are game changers,” said Pradeep Jotwani, SVP & GM, LaserJet & Enterprise Solutions, Printing and Personal Systems, HP. “These are printers that have been redesigned top to bottom.”
He was talking about the three latest additions to the LaserJet family, the Pro M252 and MFP M277 series, and the Enterprise M552/M553 series, that will be generally available as of April 1. Featuring toner cartridges with JetIntelligence, they use up to 53% less energy, take up to 40% less space and wake up, print and duplex in a fraction of the time.
This is the most significant re-engineering of the laser printer since the launch of the initial LaserJet back in 1984, said Jotwani, who joined HP that year. Like everything else falling under the Moore’s Law umbrella, printers have to be smaller, faster, more powerful, smarter, etc. etc. etc.
He noted that over the last 5 years, the space per office worker has shrunk by 20%, so printers have to be smaller too — 40% smaller in this case. Concern about energy costs have grown, so these printers consume up to 53% less energy than their predecessors. While the printers are smaller and more energy efficient, they can product 33% more pages, said Jotwani.
Duplexing matters too, said Jotwani, but the little known fact is that while the first side prints fast, the second side prints considerably slower. “These are the fastest duplex printers in their class.”
However businesses need more, he added. “They need to be smarter.”
According to HP, the toner cartridge has been re-engineered to work smarter than ever before, delivering more pages with fewer interventions. Page maximizer technology delivers more pages per cartridge than previous generations with less internal wear. In addition, print gauge technology intelligently predicts toner levels, helping IT managers get the most out of each toner cartridge.
“Perhaps most important of all, you have to make sure that these printers are secure,” said Jotwani. Print security is a broad topic that covers a multitude of potential sins and /or vulnerabilities, including: imaging and printing fleets; data in transit and at rest; printed documents; cloud access; printing from mobile devices; and content management.
Security is printing’s biggest problem, according to an HP survey released last Fall. Almost all businesses — at least 90% — have experienced a security breach because of unsecured print environments, said HP.
For the new printers, anti-fraud technology is built into every JetIntelligence cartridge, identifying counterfeit cartridges and enforcing customer-initiated anti-theft and office-wide printing policies to manage cost and quality standards. Also new, JetAdvantage Private Print helps prevent unauthorized access to confidential print jobs and reduces waste from misprinted jobs. Each print job is securely stored in the cloud until the user authenticates and claims the job from the printer.
Along with PCs, printers will make up one half of the upcoming corporate makeover, and will become HP Inc., $57.2 billion in revenues, $5.4 billion operating profits, 9.4% margins and 1.7% growth in the trailing 12-months after 2Q13. The other half, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE), is a $58.4 billion enterprise-focused servers, services, software and cloud company, with $6 billion operating profits, 10.2% margins and a slightly more anemic 0.4% growth.
According to Technology Business Research, HP’s makeover strategy, expected to be completed by the end of fiscal 2015, is threefold: abandon the conglomerate strategy; enable two very different businesses to find their own ways; and make it easier to partner, merge or even potentially sell one business or the other. Potential buyers of one of the more manageably-priced offspring include Dell, Cisco, IBM or EMC.
As we get nearer to M-Day, the company’s latest results were mixed. First quarter profit fell 4% from last year, and revenue declined 5%, but quarterly earnings per share, excluding items, came in above analysts’ expectations.
Net revenue fell 5% to $26.84 billion from $28.15 billion in the same quarter last year. Printing revenue fell 5% from a year earlier to $5.5 billion. Net income was $1.37 billion or $0.73 per share, compared to $1.43 billion or $0.74 per share for the year-ago quarter.
Although HP continues to dominate the printer market (around 40% share, almost double its next closest competitor), growth was relatively flat last quarter for hardcopy peripherals (HCP), with revenues up 1.7% ($15.2 billion) and shipments down 2.6% (30.8 million units) year-over-year. Laser shipments were up 0.2% for the quarter, 0.8% for the year.
Jotwani said the economics of the new lineup are so compelling that heavy users will be able to cost-justify moving to the new printers immediately, which could be a nice revenue jump from large enterprises and print services providers. As for the future, he said you can expect to see this functionality continue across the rest of HP’s printer portfolio.
THE DUPLEX DISCLAIMER: I’m here courtesy of HP, and I’m also a shareholder.