HP Print Tech Day Proves Printing Industry Still Innovating, Adapting to Technology

I haven’t owned a household printer for several years. If I need to copy, scan, or print something, I’ll use the printer in the office—or, for something more specialized, a print shop. Anything else, including virtually all of my day-to-need needs, can these days be handled exclusively digitially.

But even though I’m not a user of today’s top-end printing devices, it doesn’t mean I’m not blown away by them—and it doesn’t mean that printers aren’t still selling like crazy and being used more than ever.

HP introduced its first LaserJet printer in 1980. It was massive, slow, and prohibitively expensive. At a cost of $120,000, only about 75 were ever sold. In 1984 the LaserJet printer hit the mass market with a desktop version and HP sold 100 million of them in 22 years. This week HP revealed it recently sold its 200 millionth LaserJet printer, which means it sold its second hundred million in less than seven years.

Printers, copiers, and scanners still focus almost entirely on their core function: to print, copy, and/or scan. Which suggests innovation has been minimal over the decades. But that’s not true. Today’s products include remarkably faster performance, touchscreen interface controls, scanning to the cloud, wireless printing technology—both over wireless networks and via near-field communications—and even more nuanced things like soundwave technology that, just like in automatic teller machines, detects with perfect accuracy when something as physically subtle as two thin pieces of paper are stuck together.

Much of this innovation has happened in the past half-decade, largely as a result of smartphones and tablets rapidly taking over households and workspaces worldwide. HP has branded this hybrid paper-and-digital world the “New Style of IT.”

“Organizations need to adapt quickly to the changing landscape of information technology, which includes dealing with the vast amounts of data and processes created by a growing mobile workforce,” explains Pradeep Jotwani, senior vice president of LaserJet and Enterprise Solutions for HP. “New innovations and an updated LaserJet printing portfolio help improve customers’ mobile print experience and transform the management of digital and print workflows for potentially greater business performance.”

By 2015, 37 percent of the global workforce will be mobile. Consequently organizations must be able to respond to this mobility megatrend with solutions that are easy to use, increase efficiency, and reduce security risks.

“The shipment of our 200 millionth LaserJet demonstrates how we’ve continued that innovation, and we are far from done,” says Jotwani. “We will turn challenges into opportunities to change the way that businesses digitize, manage and consume content.”

A paperless future has been touted since as early as the mid-60s, yet as we amass exponentially more data, we continue to print more and more, using paper ever day as a portable display of information and an archival instrument. And as the demand for printing technology rises, smart companies continue to innovate the space—even if those from the outside already consider this thriving industry dead.