In the 10 years that Vyomesh I. Joshi has headed Hewlett-Packard's Imaging and Printing Group, the division's revenues have grown from $7 billion to over $26 billion, making it the third largest division in the company, and HP the world's largest printer company.
Surprisingly, even in an age where more and more people are reading content off computer screens, the demand for printers is growing. Joshi, 'VJ' to everyone at HP, explains this paradox by citing four key trends he sees in the digital world that are driving greater printer use. First, there is the sheer growth of online content.
"Look at how much more people are using Facebook, Yahoo and Google," says Joshi. The more people use online content, the more they will want key portions of that material on paper with them for ready reference. And HP is ready with highly advanced printers that allow users to print directly from the Web, without first downloading the material on to their computers.
"We have already shipped six million web-connected, cloud-aware printers that allow people to print from a multitude of connected devices," he adds. "We are completely device agnostic. We work with everyone, be it Apple or Google, because customers do not care, they just want to get the task done." Second, more and more books and magazines are likely to be printed using digital techniques, instead of the traditional screen printing - which in turn will require many more printers. "A lot of books and magazines will also get rapidly digitised," says Joshi. "Today 40 per cent of books printed rot in warehouses.
Traditional screen printing demands huge production runs of at least 100,000 copies." Not all these copies find consumers. Printing digitally, however, enables publishers to work with much smaller volumes, as well as at a greater speed.
"We have a printer in Paris who produced a book on the Prince William-Kate Middleton wedding in just 96 hours," says Joshi. "Our 'Web Press' technology was faster and cheaper than any offset screen press can ever be." Of the world's total print run of 50 trillion pages this year only around 10 per cent is being printed digitally: the figure is bound to rise in the years ahead.
Third, smarter printers have been devised, which in turn are making printer use more widespread. "These printers have applications that enable them to consume data straight off the Net," says Joshi.
"For instance, you can schedule delivery of content from your favourite newspapers, magazines, blogs or other websites, edited in a reader friendly way, before you set off for work." HP's pilot project in delivering content in this manner has received much positive feedback. Finally, in the future, everything will be available as a 'service'. Thus HP intends to provide the service of imaging and printing to more and more companies. "Today most enterprises spend between six to seven per cent of their budgets on imaging and printing," says Joshi. "By running these as a service for them, we help them concentrate on their core tasks.