Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Why HP wants us to print more and more? Why it's a lose-lose offer?

Printing is a major money maker for HP - more printing equals more printers and ink sold. The printing division of HP, reports the New York Times, accounts for about a fifth of its revenue and a third of its profits.

HP is now introducing "a fleet of printers with Web access, their own e-mail addresses and touch screens. These products should open up new ways for people to print from Web services like
Google Docs, and from smartphones and devices like the iPad from Apple."

I believe that this is a bad move for HP, a lose-lose strategy that is both bad for the environment and their business. Here's why:

1) Individuals and companies use less and less paper.
And it looks like an irreversible trend.

According to figures provided by
Paper Industry Association Council (PIAC), the supply of paper is declining since 2004. Just look at the figures (000 tons):

2004 - 101,884
2005 - 99,613
2006 - 100,665
2007 - 97,007
2008 - 89,838
2009 - 78,902

From 2004 to 2009 the supply of paper in the U.S. saw a 29% decline. Now, you can see that it didn't start with the latest recession, a good indicator that individuals and companies find printing more and more unnecessary even when economy thrives.

The reasons? Very simple: It's expensive to print given the user-friendly alternatives we have thanks to the progress of technology.

So the idea of HP is something like 'if you can't beat them, join them' - we'll look at technology as a platform for producing more print, not as an obstacle. But with all the respect to their new features, I doubt if any of this changes the basic assumptions: a) printing still costs more money than other options b) we really don't need to print that much as we used to.

2) Printing equals more waste and more carbon footprint.

As both individuals and companies are looking for further ways to reduce their waste and their carbon footprint (win-win - less expenses and less impact on the environment), HP's new offer looks a bit counterproductive with regards to these efforts and hence not too attractive.

HP tries to look as it is heading forward, but actually by encouraging individuals and companies to print more it moves backwards. I have no idea why the world's largest technology company, which is known for being so innovative, doesn't look for sustainable innovations that will generate not only income but also eco-friendly solutions.

In all I'm somewhat disappointed that a company like HP, which is considered a relatively green company, is taking such an approach. I understand printing makes them a lot of money, but they can do better - they developed advanced eco-friendly digital printing devices and they design
data center, which uses rainwater collection and recycled materials to reduce energy demands, so they can definitely find better ways to generate income rather than just encourage us to print more.

Last but not least, I would encourage HP directors to look into the way JP Morgan is working to assist businesses to switch into paperless operations, saving these businesses a lot of money and creating a new source of revenues for JP Morgan. Win-Win? Definitely!

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading!