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HP plays the print app game; Will you buy into 'Printing 2.0'?

Hewlett-Packard on Tuesday unveiled a "print app" marketplace where consumers can print specialized content sans a PC. HP also announced a bevy of partnerships with AOL, Flickr, Disney and others and an App Studio portal.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor on

Hewlett-Packard on Tuesday unveiled a "print app" marketplace where consumers can print specialized content sans a PC. HP also announced a bevy of partnerships with AOL, Flickr, Disney and others and an App Studio portal.

A print app is lightweight software designed to work with HP's high-end printer. These apps will allow you to print custom content without a PC. HP calls it Printing 2.0 (see statement, FAQ) and a printer playground.

The big question: Will you use print apps? These apps will deliver custom content. For instance, Disney Online will offer coloring pages, Flickr will allow members to print photos directly from a printer and CBSNews, sister site of ZDNet, will deliver 60 Minutes transcripts along with other items.

HP said its aim is to allow custom Web printing from anywhere. These print apps will work with new PhotoSmart and TouchSmart printers from HP. In a statement, HP's Vyomesh Joshi, executive vice president of HP's printing unit, said that 50 percent of everything printed comes from the Web so apps make sense.

In this Print 2.0 vision, HP is trying to make printing more community focused by embedding items like the Tabbloid publishing service with AOL and partnering with Flickr. Of course, the real game is to sell printers.

HP's Photosmart Premium printer with TouchSmart Web will run you $399. So far, these print apps only work on the $399 printer. Other wireless printers ranging from $129 to $199 will be available.

The bigger picture here is this: Printing is a cash cow for HP, but it's one that could struggle in the future. Simply put, folks are opting to publish pictures online on sites like Facebook. That fact means that HP sells less ink.

In a nutshell, HP needs an app-printer ecosystem to encourage you to print more. HP's latest quarter showed the trends in the printing business.

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Sam Diaz explains the moving parts in this video.

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