RealTime IT News

HP Latest to Hop on iPhone Bandwagon

iPhone and HP Mobile Print

HP may have plans to compete with Apple in the smartphone market, but that doesn't mean it can ignore the iPhone.

Today, HP (NYSE: HPQ) announced iPrint Photo, a free application now available on Apple's App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch. iPrint Photo is designed to let customers easily print photos wherever there's access to a wireless network and HP printer.

The application enables wireless printing of 4x6 photos to HP inkjet printers. HP said iPrint Photo is fully compatible with Bonjour, Apple's implementation of the ZeroConf "zero-configuration" networking protocol. Some older HP inkjets may not be compatible with the technology. HP lists supported printers here.

HP has a long history of supporting the Macintosh with various printer solutions. Darrell Walker, a software development engineer in HP's Mac group, said the company first discussed supporting the iPhone back in September.

"We were able to develop a proof of concept photo printing application in a few weeks and finished up in early December," Walker told InternetNews.com.

Like thousands of other free applications on the iPhone, iPrint Photo won't generate any money for HP directly, but anything that encourages printing stands to be good for the computer and printer giant's bottom line.

"A lot of mobile users forget about printing," Walker said. "One of our goals is to help make printing relevant in the mobile space."

The printing process is straightforward. Just press the iPrint Photo application button on the i-Phone, select your photo album and image and press print on the device's touch-sensitive screen. HP also has wireless printing solutions for Windows Mobile devices, but Walker said they are more business-oriented and not as easy to use.

"We worked hard to make this drop-dead simple," he said.

HP plans to show off iPrint Photo next month at both the Macworld Expo in San Francisco and the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Walker said HP was exploring other opportunities to develop for the iPhone and will be monitoring feedback from the App Store.

Another big Apple rival, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), released its first iPhone application earlier this month. Seadragon, available for free at the iPhone App Store, is designed for advanced image browsing. It can be used, for example, to zoom far in on an image or to browse a collection of images on a single screen.