Okay, we were so mad at a couple of flaws in recent HP printers that we were ready to switch. Now, that's quite a statement from our house since we met at HP, and my wife (who loved the place) still thinks I'm married more to HP than to anyone else.
But after an evening at Best Buy, and another at Staples, we came home with an HP Office Pro 8600.
And we love it.
The clerk said "You'd better buy new ink cartridges right now, since they only put enough 'starter ink' in the initial cartridges to turn the machine on and make sure it operates." We did buy a full set, for a coll $97 (the printer, with original cartridges, was $199). This is much like buying an iPhone from Verizon, damn near free as long as you buy the monthly service package.
Well, the pleasant surprise is that I printed more than 3 reams of paper before the black ink ran out, which comes out to about 2.6 cnens per page, quite a bit cheaper than Kinko's. And the colored inks were mostly still full, even though many pages had color elements.
You're right, there were few pictures in this particular set.
But, I got to reflecting on this business. Ink-jet printing for HP has a long Long LONG history, going back 25 years to the first ThinkJet that actually was a successful commercial product. Prior to that, the ink ran, or spilled, or smeared, or evaporated over time, even though 11 technologies were tried in 23 separate products for the previous decade. But the recipe finally baked good bread, and something like a half billion InkJet printers have been sold by HP in the intervening years, more than all other manufacturers combined, over a very long time.
And no one maintains a competitive edge that long, right? Not in wide-body airplanes, not in luxury cars, not in candy bars or RAID disc drives or even jet engines. Against the world's best companies, including Apple, Kodak in their heyday, IBM in its, Dell, Konica-Minolta, Savin, Ricoh, Canon and Samsung to name a few leading brands. How'd they do it?
And what's next?