Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina knows where her company's core competency lies: printers. Fiorina said Wednesday that smart printer technology will only get more important with the rise of Internet-enabled devices.
In fact, she said she intends to build a franchise on Internet-enabled printing services through partnerships and new appliances that will boost the $40 billion print-and-imaging market to $100 billion in five years. "Imagine when you can point your cell phone at an HP printer and print directions," Fiorina said, citing an example of enhanced services on the horizon.
Fiorina revealed new partnerships as the first steps toward her growth goal. HP is linking with ImageTag, NewspaperDirect, printCafe, Encryptix.com, and FedEx. (HP already has partnerships with Stamps.com to deliver postage over the Internet and Mimeo.com, which receives files over the Internet, then prints documents at a facility in Memphis to be shipped overnight around the country.)
As part of the new agreements, HP will promote each partners' services as operating with HP printers. It also will take an equity stake in the companies or set up a revenue-sharing arrangement with them, Fiorina said. Who are HP's new partners?
- NewspaperDirect lets customers print international newspapers locally as single issues.
- ImageTag provides bar-coded Post-It brand "eFlags" that electronically store the information on a sheet of paper it is affixed to for later retrieval.
- PrintCafe is an electronic marketplace for high-volume publishing.
- Encryptix.com, a subsidiary of Stamps.com, is providing a secure means of printing event tickets from users' computers.
- Shipping company FedEx is working with HP to let users print shipping labels directly from their HP printers.
While HP's deals with companies doing specialized printing may be self-explanatory, its partnerships with ImageTag and printCafe illustrate the company's push to create printers that operate separately from desktops or networks. HP is planting its stake in the Internet economy, according to analysts.
"Fundamentally, what HP is doing, besides trying to lay down this next-generation architecture, they are trying to take a strong leadership position early, to beat Canon or Sharp," says Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies Inc. "They are basically [saying that] they are leaders in this space, and that anyone who is considering developing information or network appliances should look to HP."