Monday, October 03, 2005

Disposable Printers

I've blogged previously about good and bad experiences I've had with HP and HP printers. The last few experiences with consumer level printers have been pretty bad. We blown through 3 cheap inkjets faster than we used to go through diapers when the kids were smaller.

So this weekend, I bought an el cheapo Dell 3 in 1. But I've run into a similar experience of a friend of mine. The printer was $79. Net shipping was a negligible $3. A set of ink refills was $55.

Now I know that a) They money on the ink not on the printer b) Many companies don't ship full or full sized ink cartridges with the initial printer purchase. But occassionally market are inefficient for a while and it seems like we're getting pretty close to the disposable printer. I can refill the ink for $55 or buy a new one for $79.

What if your car were like that? I could buy a new one for $100 with half a tank of gas or I could fill it up for $75 and keep my current car! Weird. If anyone else tries to get into the low end of the printer market in the US, we could have a disposable printer.

Oh, it's not much better on the high end either. I had a purchasing clerk for a while who kept trying to capitalize color toner. It cost about $1,600 bucks to refill the printer with toner. A couple toner changes and you could buy a new one. (That individual is no longer with us. Eventually you have to get the concept that a fixed asset has both a monetary (over a dollar threshold) and a time (lasts longer than a year) component if you want to work for me. But I degress.)

Something similar has happend before in software. For a while, Excel was something like $300 new, and for a limited time, a $100 for a competative upgrade from Lotus or Quattro Pro. Quattro Pro was offering a limited time new user cost of $50. So for $150 you could get both Quattro Pro and Excel and never pay retail.

My shift to Dell continues in strange and bizarre ways. Last year I had one Dell in the house and a couple of homegrowns. Now I have two Dells and a Dell Laptop. If they made table PC's, Dara would probably have gotten one of those. So, who is going to step up and knock off Dell? Lenovo? I'm not betting on it. HP? Not with what I've seen in their flagship printer division. Any Takers?

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