It’s ink on demand: HP moves into the subscriptions business

11 May 2017

Gary Tierney, managing director, HP Ireland. Image: HP

New HP Instant Ink platform wants to be the Netflix of the printed world.

The subscription economy is changing how we approach every task in our lives; movies, music, exercise, beauty – and now printing, says Gary Tierney, managing director of HP Ireland.

Tierney spoke with about the launch of the new HP Instant Ink subscription service, which it estimates will save users up to 70pc, or €564, a year on ink costs.

‘Our own market research in Ireland suggests the typical family prints around 50 pages per month’

With HP Instant Ink, customers sign up for a monthly subscription for a flat rate based on how many pages they typically print per month. There are three monthly pricing options available in Ireland: €2.99 for a 50-page plan, €4.99 for a 100-page plan and €9.99 for a 300-page version.

As soon as a customer enrols in the programme and inserts an Instant Ink cartridge into a compatible printer, the device continually sends its ink levels to HP and triggers a replacement cartridge when running low. An original HP ink cartridge is then delivered to the customer’s door.

“Recent research shows the growing disparity in subscription spending habits from generation to generation,” Tierney observed.

“Millennials especially see subscriptions as purchasing made easier, with most having a product or subscription of some kind.

“HP Instant Ink is revolutionising printing in the same way by bringing it into the connected world. It is redefining printing by simplifying what was once a painful chore (buying ink), making life a little bit easier in the process.”

Is print really dead?

It’s ink on-demand: HP moves into the subscriptions business

HP Envy 4520 printer. Image: HP

Tierney rails against the idea that people are less prone to printing and argues that the industry is enjoying a kind of renaissance, thanks to the selfie generation.

“Our strategy is to reinvent the home-printing market, disrupt the office-printing sector, and grow our graphics-printing business.

“HP Instant Ink is the perfect example of reinventing home printing, by applying a new subscription-based model to the sector to better meet the needs of customers. We’ve seen a tremendous uptake of Instant Ink globally, showing the demand is certainly there.

“Our own market research in Ireland suggests the typical family prints around 50 pages per month, so Instant Ink is ideally placed to cater for this customer segment.

“We have a huge focus on innovation, so our other consumer devices have also opened up new opportunities in the sector.

“For example, we’ve recently launched the DeskJet 3720 – the world’s smallest desktop printer – and the unique Sprocket device. Appealing to the mobile millennial generation, the Sprocket is a pocket-sized printer that integrates with social media platforms via an app and instantly prints 2in by 3in photos – direct from your phone. It doesn’t even use ink, running on zinc paper technology instead.”

Tierney said that on the commercial side, HP revealed a new line of A3 multifunction printers.

“This next-generation portfolio transforms today’s copier experience for customers and service professionals, by offering advanced security features unmatched in the marketplace and more efficient printing via HP’s PageWide printing technology.

“Using the vast knowledge we’ve gained through our large-scale commercial printers, we streamlined our designs, improved print speeds and enabled higher-quality printing for a lower cost.

“In addition, our graphic-solutions business continues to grow annually, and see us work with some of the world’s biggest and most innovative brands – such as Coca-Cola, [which] used HP’s Indigo printing technology to create their ‘Share a Coke’ personalised product campaign globally,” Tierney concluded.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years