By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Ever since it decided to make another pass at the home printer market, Kodak has pinned its hope on reversing the prevailing business model of low-cost hardware and higher-priced consumables.
Now the company has been pressing retailers to reveal ISO ink yield data on the printers they stock, to give consumers a sense of the cost of ownership of various options, said Steve Marzio, inkjet systems business manager, Kodak.
“We feel very strongly the bulk of the current industry is misleading customers” when it comes to the costs of printing, Marzio said. Buying a printer without a sense of what you'd pay in ink over the life of the unit would be akin to “shopping for a car without the miles-per-gallon rating,” he said.
Kodak has been touting test results from the firm Quality Logic that showed the company had the least-expensive ink costs. Kodak has been working with its retail partners to make these test figures, which were derived from ISO standards, available at the point of sale for all the printers they carry.
The American Consumer InstituteCenter for Citizen Research (ACICCR) also weighed in after a request by Kodak to study the issue. In a report, the ACICCR derided the inkjet's industry's “excessive profit.”
“There is over-pricing and gouging on the ink side,” said Steve Pociask, president of ACICCR.
The non-profit research institute did not receive any funding from Kodak, nor does it accept money from corporations or special interests groups, Pociask said.
The industry would benefit from greater clarity on the long-term costs of printer ownership, said Ron Glaz, program director, IDC.
For its part, Hewlett-Packard does provide ISO-derived data on its supplies, said Thom Brown, inkjet supplies manager. What's more, figures derived from ISO-based tests don't capture the total printer ownership equation, Brown added.
Dave Jollota, Quality Logic president, agreed that the ISO standard in and of itself cannot determine issues such as reliability and quality, or encompass the full scope of consumer printing behavior.
Since Kodak re-entered the inkjet market in 2007 it has yet to crack into the top five of multifunction printer vendors, according to dollar sales figures from The NPD Group's Consumer Tracking Service.
Although consumers rank price as an inhibitor to printing, David Haueter, photo printing trends associate director, InfoTrends, thinks more is afoot. “You ask anyone if something is too expensive they'll say yes, so we think printing has more to do with convenience issues.”
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