Why HP disabling third party inks is a good thing

There has been a lot of condemnation in the press and social media of Hewlett Packard releasing a timed firmware update that was "set to execute in September" in their March firmware updates for popular OfficeJet, Envy and OfficeJet Pro printers. The update removes the ability to run a percentage of chipped cartridges manufactured by OEM vendors.

Ink has always been expensive whether you are using HP, Kodak, Epson and back in the day Lexmark who were drop for drop the most lucrative ink maker by a mile. I use a variety of printers on my LAN - all HP, a variety of laser MFPs an aged JetDirect enabled HP LaserJet 1100 and an HP Officejet colour inkjet. I also have three HP Envy colour inkjets at global locations and other properties connected via HP ePrint / Google Cloud Print. These mean my Chromebooks, Samsung Tablets, Apple iPads and all our family phones can print to the inkjets remotely or from anywhere in the house. We actually rely on the ePrint and Google Cloud print capabilities hugely.

All four of the HP colour inkjets run HP original ink.

But that might be expensive you all scream - OEM ink is far more expensive you all presume. And thats where you'd be hugely wrong.

OEM ink is expensive. If you go to a Walmart or in the UK any retailer and buy supermarket own brand or mail order ink it's still costly. The supermarkets and mail order places also stock HP / Epson / Brother / Kodak inks and yes these are probably 25% more expensive than the OEMs.

Now both OEM and own brand are sold at margins of 45-60% profit by retailers and in mail order probably 25-40% markup. It still might be "cheaper than the original manufacturer" but it's still sold at a mark up.

The bigger news is NOT that HP made this firmware change but actually that in Summer 2015 HP launched Instant Ink. Instant Ink is a three tiered subscription model for inkjet users for HP to supply ink direct to users - cutting out the retail market and the channel. Also by charging for what you use and delivering it direct to you it works out cheaper than OEM after market inks for HP original product.

I've got four printers in four locations subscribed to it. It makes my 70 year old mothers life easier and if you go get an HP Envy now you get low quantity inks in the box and you get 5 months free subscription plus a set of inks when you subscribe. Oh and I can see what I'm using, manage my device and do a lot more cool things into the bargain.

So... the story should read - "HP actually make inkjet usage cheaper for end users" rather than HP cut out aftermarket OEM cartridge makers and their profit margins.

I'm NOT an HP fan at all but I don't agree with many of the bylines or the way HP are being stamped on. HP could actually do PR properly but as with many things HP do badly as an organisation thats unlikely to happen.