HP's ePrint initiative: Color me conflicted on cloud printing

HP's ePrint initiative: Color me conflicted on cloud printing

Summary: HP's ePrint effort is powerful and makes a lot of business sense. The challenge for HP: Encouraging you to print more.

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Hewlett-Packard has launched a broad initiative to allow you to print from any device---your Apple iPad or iPhone, your BlackBerry, your Android phone and any other mobile gadget. The effort, dubbed HP ePrint, is powerful and makes a lot of business sense. The challenge for HP: Encouraging you to print more.

HP's ePrint goes like this (statement):

  • You can send anything you want to print to from a mobile device to a Web-enabled printer.
  • You can schedule printing as needed. You could print your own newspaper really by timing the latest stories from the New York Times, Reuters and ESPN.
  • Every HP printer will have an email address and when connected to a mobile app your print jobs can go everywhere.
  • E-print will work with Google Docs and a bevy of partners are planning apps.
  • Web connected printers will be the norm in the HP portfolio.
  • HP will have an online hub to configure devices, track jobs and download apps.

It all sounds swell, but I'm conflicted about the service and somewhat skeptical. Here are the moving parts to ponder:

  • The technologist in me applauds HP for rethinking printing. Cloud aware printing ditches the drivers and could be quite handy.
  • The businessman in me thinks HP is on the right track because it may be able to sell more printers---and therefore ink. Meanwhile, the cloud printing effort is a nice way to futureproof one of HP's cash cows. HP is showing us the future of printing with the old business model---sell those supplies baby!
  • The skeptic in me knows those business implications and can't help but think HP is just trying to get me to print more and therefore buy more ink. Frankly, I'm tired of buying ink.
  • The curmudgeon in me really likes my printers dumb. For all the pizzazz of the HP announcement I have never had the urge to print from my smartphone and don't see myself running out to buy a cloud-enabled replacement printer.

If I were to print this missive out from my smartphone it would be called "conflicted about cloud printing. I don't think I'm alone so I'm going to be very interested in how these conflicts are sorted out going forward. For HP, the move is a no-brainer, but I wonder if folks will really print more. Your mobile device has basically become your photo album. You don't show prints of photos you hand them your phone and swipe. Photo printing in my house is just rare these days. Today, you may print one photo out of 300. Not so long ago you'd print out 300 photos just to figure out the one you liked.

Documents have become a similar story. Printing is still important and you have to hand it to HP for thinking ahead. However, there are still challenges ahead. Thoughts on e-Print?

Topics: Enterprise Software, Banking, Data Management, Hardware, Hewlett-Packard, Printers, Software

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16 comments
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  • Partial print, scaling?

    If it works by emailing the document (as it applies to iPads and iPhones, which don't support printing, this seems logical), how do you specify printing only certain pages, or setting it to fit to a single page, print duplex etc. ?
    wright_is
    • RE: HP's ePrint initiative: Color me conflicted on cloud printing

      @wright_is
      Emailing a document to a printer is not really a good example of how cloud printing should work. Here's how I would envision a decent cloud printing setup...

      1.) Printer has some kind of network access (ethernet, wifi) or it's connected to some kind of computer that has network access (via usb or whatever)

      2.) The printer itself (ideally, but hopefully for older printers -- the computer connected to it) can run software that communicates to a web server somewhere (couldprint.hp.com). It sends some kind of identification code (serial number, whatever) to the cloud server and logs in.

      3.) I create an account on the server from my browser, add my printer, and set up passwords, access, all that jazz.

      4.) From my phone, I go to https://cloudprint.hp.com (note that I say httpS because it would _have_ to be secure no matter what) in the browser, and from there I am provided with an intuitive web interface, where I can upload documents, resize them, print certain pages, print highlighted text, print pictures, edit pictures -- the possibilities are endless...all devices have browsers and with HTML5 it can only get better.
      surgex
    • RE: HP's ePrint initiative: Color me conflicted on cloud printing

      @wright_is
      Also you just got me thinking even further, maybe email would be doable -- the cloud server could also be a mail server (ie myaccountname@cloudprint.hp.com) -- and for devices that really don't have a true filesystem (ahem...iphone OS!) or that have issues with uploading stuff through their browser, you can just email your documents instead of uploading them...once the server receives the mail, you could log in to the web GUI, go to your mail, download the attachment to the cloud storage, and then once again use the web GUI to edit the document, set scaling, single page, blah blah and all that jazz. The key to all of this though is web web web...
      surgex
  • Its DOA if...

    Its DOA if spammers can get their hands on the printer's Email address.

    And you thought junk faxes were bad...
    wkulecz
    • RE: HP's ePrint initiative: Color me conflicted on cloud printing

      @wkulecz yeah, that's the first thing I thought of...I know I get plenty of junk mail already. I can't imagine coming home to find a half ream of paper printed for viagra and oxycotin spam.
      endorphine44
    • RE: HP's ePrint initiative: Color me conflicted on cloud printing

      @wkulecz

      I will tell you what else makes it DOA.

      Note carefully the part where it travels to their servers before being rendered to the `cloud printer`. Now, would YOU want sensitive documents residing on someone's cloud server??? Our legal department replied with a resounding "NO" when some clueless member of `damagement` flew that trial balloon.

      (sarcasm)
      Shot down from the sky before its maiden voyage.
      (/sarcasm)
      fatman65535
  • We should print less, not more.

    We don't need another way to print. We need to discourage printing. It's expensive (ink/toner and paper not to mention the huge volume of waste) and, ultimately, it is not a sustainable option.

    What we really need is to find some way to create that mythical paperless office we all read about back in the 60's & 70s.

    regards,
    Jon
    JonathonDoe
    • It hasn't gone away because people were told they must keep a hard copy...

      @JonathonDoe for everything by the printer companies. But even with backups on your computer you could loose all of your information unless you print it for a hard copy backup.
      dougogd1
  • RE: HP's ePrint initiative: Color me conflicted on cloud printing

    I am a bit confused as to what value this actually adds to printing. You still have to physically go where the printer is to pick up the printout. Wouldn't it just seem to make more sense to print it once you have arrived at the printer?
    jmholmesjr1967
  • ePrinting: Mobile people's needs

    If you are out of any office, as they are really pushing everyone to be, sometimes you just really NEED to print something out. So wandering around TechEd 2015 and you want to actually print a process diagram out so that 5 people can look at it at once and mark it up and redraw it in pen, not on your 2" screen, you ePrint to the local printer there on site, pay your few bucks to get it, and then use it. If business cloud computing catches on, then you MUST have ePrint in your office to print out documents. Some items are best figured out on paper in front of people.
    TAPhilo
  • HP "tracks print jobs" ....

    According to their press release, they "monitor" print jobs. Their this allows them to profile you, in the same way that Google does, and sell that profile information to advertisers. THAT'S why HP paid over a $Billion for WebOS: It's going to be installed in their printers as Spyware, working together with their Cloud-based Service App to store vast amounts of information about you.

    But Google only studies your search requests (and tracking cookies, if you don't disallow them via NoScript or an equivalent tool.) My web searches don't contain all of the data from my monthly bank statement, or my annual credit card summary, or my medical records. MY PRINT AND COPY DATA DOES!

    For me, this means goodbye HP, Hello Epson. Who knows how deeply they might be looking into your print jobs? (Make a copy of the blood test results from your annual physical -- gadzooks, HP maybe just snooped it!)

    I'm sure that Mr. Hurd will promise not to store anything "too sensitive", although this data COULD be reviewed, managed, and stored by "Cloud Apps" running in countries where EU and USA privacy protections don't apply. (HIPAA doesn't protect you in China, or in Russia.) Once it's on the net, and under the control of HP's "Cloud Application", this data really isn't yours any more.

    As some of you know, many high-end HP MFP's already store image data on an internal disk. When Police Departments, Doctor's offices, and similar institutions return these printers off-lease, or sell/donate them for "refurb", they often forget to wipe the internal disk -- and in these two cases, you'll find that it's full of confidential arrest records, confidential medical records, confidential insurance information, and so on.

    Right now, this only becomes an issue when you allow the printer to physically leave the premises. But under HP's "Cloud-managed imaging service", it's an issue each time the service is invoked.

    Mr. Hurd will say, "Just trust me". My reply is, "NO WAY!"
    Rick S._z
  • KISS

    I would rather just have a way to print wirelessly without all of the darned, incompatible print drivers. Just give me some super simple universal print driver that works on EVERY HP printer (I won't even ask for vendor independence). It shouldn't be as hard as it is today.
    AncientGeek2
  • RE: HP's ePrint initiative: Color me conflicted on cloud printing

    Very interesting news and good analysis.
    Besides points of skepticism laid out by Larry, I immediately start thinking about spam. Would you like your printer to print stupid advertisements without your consent? And while GMail spam filters are close to perfect (I don't hide my address and still getting only limited spam, the same is true for my vkelman.com email protected by Google Postini http://goo.gl/77b3), still no tools offer 100% spam defense. Of course, HP is thinking about it too...

    On another note, it's very interesting to compare HP Cloud Printing initiative to Google Cloud Printing http://goo.gl/N3sb. Both are going to survive, and there will be more (Microsoft, I didn't hear you.) That's good, actually - a competition, pluralism, distributed nature are keys to Web success. So, the critically important requirement would be to develop common and open cloud printing protocols. So, I hope to be able to print remotely from my Notion Ink Adam Android table on HP printer, and to print from iPhone 4 remotely on Epson printer...
    vkelman
  • I won't be buying one. I will never allow a printer or its drivers....

    to connect to the internet. I don't want all of my personal information my bank info creditcard info and whatever else anyone would print sent over the internet. I disconnect now to print anything anyway. I have to shut down the firewall in order to print but that means shut down my internet as well.
    dougogd1
  • ePrint needs simple ePrinter Queue management

    I think there is a difference between printing remotely (from any device to an email addressed printer) and sending to a printer server and then selectively choosing jobs or pages of jobs to print. Such services are already available using IP addressing for the services and producing the "simple" printer app should not be that difficult. Yes for a SMB or enterprise are print management becomes another issue but for home use it seems reasonable to me. So HP is this part of the vision and if so tell us.
    GreenMilo
  • RE: HP's ePrint initiative: Color me conflicted on cloud printing

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