RealTime IT News

HP Takes Printing On a Road Trip

With more and more workers prizing mobility, Hewlett-Packard announced a series of partnerships and initiatives to give the estimated 165 million mobile professionals access to printers from their many wireless devices.

At the CTIA wireless show in Las Vegas, HP said it hopes to jumpstart a new area of revenue growth in the printer market, as companies increasingly lean on notebooks and PDAs to drive worker productivity. Through partnerships with Adobe , Cisco Systems , Research In Motion (RIM) , and others, the company said it would be able to offer a variety of printing options for mobile workers.

"Our customers want to be more productive by printing from mobile devices, but they want the experience to be just as simple and straight-forward as printing is from the desktop," Vyomesh Jossethhi, executive vice president of HP's imaging and printing unit, said in a statement. "Our multi-million dollar investment in mobile printing and collaboration with key industry leaders give business users the ability to print critical information wirelessly no matter where they are in the world."

In its partnership with Adobe and RIM, HP unveiled a mobile enterprise printing option, which will let users print on networked devices from Pocket PC 200 and Blackberry devices. HP is offering a standalone printing option for Pocket PC user beginning in December.

HP also unveiled a public-printing offering that allows notebook users to wirelessly print documents in hotels, airports, and hot spots through Cisco and Guest-Tek broadband technologies. Cisco is also behind HP's Jetdirect 802.11 printers, which will use Cisco's 802.11 LEAP authentication technology. HP's mobile options also include a software development kit that allows partners like PalmSource to add printing capability to PDAs running the Palm OS.

With research firm IDC pegging wireless IT spending growing to $83 billion in 2005, HP has an opportunity to make up for its flagging growth in a potentially tough printer market.

The lucrative printer market has been stagnant. Gartner Dataquest estimates the U.S. printer market was worth $5.9 billion last year; it expects it will fall slightly this year, to $5.8 billion. HP still dominates the market, claiming 48 percent market share to No. 2 printer company Lexmark's 19.5 percent. However, HP has a new rival.

Culminating months of speculation and HP posturing as the confident market champ, Dell Computer announced a deal with Lexmark last month to make Dell-branded printers. Dell has traditionally commoditized markets through its direct-sales approach, making it a potential thorn in HP's side when the first Dell printers roll out in 2003.