HP on Mondayunveiled a web-enabled, cloud-friendly printing service that allows anyone to print anything from, well, anywhere.
The new platform, called ePrint, allows users to print from any device to a web-enabled printer using e-mail. Each printer gets its own unique e-mail address, and designated users can use their smartphone, tablet or laptop to print remotely -- no drivers necessary.
The cloud-based platform allows for several new things:
You can store files in the cloud and print them when necessary.
Publishers can customize print apps and schedule content delivery to printers.
You can manage everything from the HP ePrintCenter, an online hub.
Following the announcement, HP also announced a wealth of new web-enabled all-in-one printers for home and business.
HP Photosmart Premium e-All-in-One: Top-of-the-line model with wireless access to the web, advanced print apps (such as Fandango and Coupons.com), 4.3-inch TouchSmart screen and automatic two-sided printing. $199; available in September.
HP Photosmart Plus e-All-in-One: Midrange model with 3.5-inch TouchSmart screen. $149; available in August.
HP Photosmart e-All-in-One: Bargain model with 2.4-inch TouchSmart screen. $99, available late June in North America.
HP Photosmart Premium Fax e-All-in-One: Fax, scan and copy with automatic document feeder; touchscreen; wired and wireless networking. $299, available worldwide in September.
This connectivity allows the printers to talk to the cloud and access Google Docs, Photos and Calendar directly. HP has also partnered with Yahoo, msnbc.com, Facebook, Live Nation, Crayola, Reuters, DocStoc and Google (Picasa) for apps.
Perhaps the most important part of the announcement has nothing to do with the consumer, at least directly. With web-connectivity, HP can now open a digital print advertising platform to pipe in premium content and "populate select print content with customized messages, promotions and information like coupons or local services."
The announcement is clear: printing's gone to the cloud. But in an age of mobility and portable computing devices, does it really matter?