Rochester, N.Y. — Seeking to overturn the prevailing razor/razor blade model of photo printers and ink cartridges, Kodak announced today new all-in-ones which it will sell alongside inexpensive ink cartridges exclusively through Best Buy.
The inkjet-based all-in-ones will be available in three models, shipping this May. They will be paired with a $9.99 black and $14.99 5-ink color cartridge.
The all-in-ones will offer print and copy speeds up to 32 pages per minute in black and 22 pages per minute in color. Borderless 4-inch by 6-inch photos can be produced in 28 seconds.
The units will feature two USB ports in the front for connecting digital cameras, USB drives or Bluetooth adapters.
The EasyShare 5100, for a suggested $149, features a 100 page main paper tray and a 20-page tray for 4 by 6-inch photo paper.
The 5300 adds memory card slots and a 3-inch LCD screen for PC-free photo printing. It will retail for a suggested $199. Finally, the $299-suggested 5500 includes a fax machine and a 35 sheet auto document feeder and duplexer. It features a 2.5-inch LCD and memory card slots.
What will distinguish the offerings is the business model Kodak will pursue with its pigmented inks, said Bob Ohlweiler, Kodak inkjet marketing director. The company is claiming that its inks will undercut competitors’ cost by as much as 50 percent.
"People feel constrained from printing because of the costs of ink," Ohlweiler said. "In this business, the 30 percent of consumers who print subsidize the rest of those who don’t when they buy expensive ink cartridges. When your average consumer buys a printer, they have no idea what ink costs and are shocked to find out. We’re going to put the costs of ink up front, so consumers can evaluate these costs up front."
Ohlweiler argued that lower prices for ink would entice consumers to print more and offset whatever margin losses resulted from lower cartridge prices.
Aside from ink cartridges, Kodak will sell two photo value packs that bundle 4 by 6-inch paper and a color cartridge. A 180 sheet pack of everyday photo paper and one color cartridge will retail for $17.99 and will yield a 10 cent per print cost, Ohlweiler said. A 135-sheet pack of premium photo paper and a color cartridge will retail for $19.99 and yield a 15 cent per print cost.
Best Buy was chosen as an exclusive launch partner because of the company’s sales-assisted floor, which Kodak felt would be important to help educate consumers on the new paradigm.
"Our target customer fit the Best Buy demographic and since we’re breaking with an industry practice we needed someone who could educate the customer," Ohlweiler said.
Kodak would not disclose how long the exclusive relationship would last.
The company has also been adding watermarks to its entire line of photo papers in anticipation of the new all-in-ones, Ohlweiler said. These marks can be automatically recognized by the units, which will then adjust printer settings to maximize for image quality. For non Kodak papers, the printers offer a second scanner to determine whether it is being fed plain or glossy paper and adjust accordingly.
It is not Kodak’s first foray into the inkjet printer business but it does represent a fundamentally different approach to the category than previously taken, Olhweiler said. For one, the company will use the same ink cartridges for future models to limit confusion, he said.
To kick-start its effort, Kodak unveiled a new Web site designed to shed light on the ink business – www.inkisit.com – which will include videos, games, a mock TV show and a print cost calculator.