Friday, July 10, 2009

Attention Printer Manufacturers

<Begin Rant>

You guys kill me…you really do.  You’ve been in the market longer then the PC manufacturers and you still fail to look around a learn a lesson about how the market works.  Printers have become one of the two evils in IT (printing and email).  Here is what your customer base wants…do these things and you’ll become the market leader:

  • Design a “line” of printers that all use the same damn toner cartridge.  I only want to stock and buy 1 type of toner cartridge.  Save your money on the manufacturing end and design a universal print cartridge that works in a family of printers and stick with the damn thing when new models come out.  Ok…why is this so damn important?  Here’s why
      • It saves time ordering new product. We as the customer don’t have to cross reference printer models just to find out which damn toner cartridge we need to take upstairs to a printer.  It also saves on those ones we ordered that were wrong and we now have to send back.
      • It saves money.  We don’t have to stock cartridges for each model so we need less storage space.  Heck for shelf life issues alone (yes toner does have a shelf life) it would be more efficient.
      • It saves the environment. As printers age, those extra cartridges that were never used get tossed. If we can just upgrade the printer to the next model and it uses standard toner we are good to go.
      • You save time.  Questions about which model customers should buy are gone. Less phone calls. (Nobody wants to speak to Abu in India about printers anyhow.)
      • You save money.  Less manufacturing costs.  Think Ford’s assembly line.  One car, one model, one color….
      • You save more money.  Less items to stock, less warehouse space needed.
      • You cut out the aftermarket guy.  Since all the costs come down, there’s little margin for the aftermarket guy.  Starve them out by designing them out.
  • Design a line of printers that all work with the same print driver. OH THE HORROR!!!! Yes. Printer drivers haven’t been reliable since HP had the HPIII.  At that point all printers were made compatible with that driver and everyone was happy.  Forget compatibility….unify the driver.  It’s less for you to test and prove and it’s easier for the customer to load everywhere.
  • Have a thin driver for each model. We could really give a shit about another systray icon eating up system resources just to tell us we are almost out of toner.  Use regular logging (eventlog in Windows and syslog in Unix)…we are looking there already on a daily basis.
  • Build in cost recovery and authentication features.  As one of the remaining hard costs associated with printing, help us keep track of it so we can charge the right people.  It helps us justify buying that bigger printer for those people that need it.
  • Have the printer phone home when something dies and send us parts automatically if we have a support contract.  Take a lesson from Data Domain on this one.  They’ve got it right.
  • Build in reporting.  The web interfaces are ok, but what I want is a print detail report each month showing total pages printed and how much it changed from last month.  Keep a running graph of monthly/weekly/yearly usage.
  • Don’t build a tabletop printer that can’t hold at least one ream of paper.  Seriously, why is this so hard?
  • Use universal parts for as many components as you can in a printer family.  Power supplies, paper trays, heck even fusers should be portable across a family line of printers.  I’ll pay extra for a printer that I can use for spare parts later.
  • Be honest about the actual life cycle of a printer. When I buy a printer I want to know how many pages it’s going to print in it’s lifetime.  Figure it out and tell me.  That helps me develop my ROI.

That’s it for now….but I’m sure I could think of more if I had time.  Printers are nothing but a pain in the ass right now and your service stinks…all of you.  Fix it already.

</End Rant>

No comments: