Hewlett Packard (HP) has rolled out a slew of partnerships and products intended to push its legacy printing and imaging business into the internet age.
Carly Fiorina, HP's chief executive, said the $40bn global printing and imaging market will increase to $100bn over the next three years, and accredits the growth to future e-service partnerships, as well as the trend to move printing beyond the current PC model to being pervasive platforms.
Internet based printers would deliver services ranging from personal printing of newspapers and concert tickets, to online document management, routing and storage, she continued.
One of the new printing partnerships, FedEx will enable people to print electronic mailing labels with inkjet printers, while another, NewspaperDirect, will allow customers to publish international newspapers on demand.
HP believes that in future documents will be sent electronically and then printed, a reversal of the current systems in which documents are printed, then faxed or mailed to their destinations.
HP also unveiled its JetDirect 4000 appliance which manages web printing by offloading printer traffic from the network. The company has already introduced a number of products that link its printers to the web, including a printer to internet connection software and a tool that allow digital cameras and handheld devices to download information directly to a printer without having to go through a PC first.
The company, as it has with many of its other internet related ventures, has agreed to take an equity stake in some of its partners.
"We expect some of these companies to grow into 800 pound gorillas," Fiorina said, "although some of them won't."
"This isn't going to make people run out tomorrow and double their print output, but it does set a stage for a potential of things to come," said Chris Barnes, a researcher with ARS Market Intelligence.
HP's imaging and printing systems division accounted for 45 per cent, or $18.9bn of HP's $42.3bn revenue last fiscal year.
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