HP Technology Speeds Up Printer Game

The company's Scalable Printing Technology, which took five years and cost $1.4 billion to develop, features a new print head that can spray ink faster and at higher densities than previous systems, company executives said.

"It means significant cost reduction, significant time-to-market reduction," said Vyomesh Joshi, executive vice president of HP's Imaging and Printing Group. "It changes the game."

This fall, HP plans to ship the first business product with the Scalable Printing Technology—the HP OfficeJet Pro K550 Color Printer, a single-function desktop printer.

With the new technology, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based vendor will be able to price the device at half the list price of rival products and cut the cost to operate the printer by 30 percent, Joshi said. HP executives estimated the new printer will be priced at about $200, but exact pricing wasn't immediately available.

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But some questioned HP's claims of lower operating costs.

"I don't really think that the cost of ownership is really a technological limitation," said Sam Chan, president of Bravo Technology Center, a solution provider in Brockport, N.Y. "I think there are a lot of pricing games going on there. There is a lot of fat to be trimmed in cartridge prices."

Gartner Group analyst Andrew Johnson concurred. "It's a wait and see on the magnitude of the impact until the operating costs are understood," Johnson said.

Still, HP can likely avoid printer pricing battles with the new technology, he added. "The competition sees the HP technology as a leap forward, and we don't see them in the position to leap themselves," he said. "HP is smart enough to not spoil the market by reducing pricing any more than is necessary to keep them in a leadership position."

ROCHELLE GARNER contributed to this story.