At the end of October, HP surprised the imaging world with the launch of the Officejet Pro X series, the first printers to use HP’s new high-speed PageWide inkjet platform. Thanks to a page wide printhead, the first Officejet Pro X printers (1st half 2013) will post ISO-rated print speeds of up to 42 pages per minute, more than doubling the speeds achieved by HP’s current Officejet Pro devices and helping redefine the limits of desktop inkjet printing.
If this news wasn’t surprising enough, the Officejet Pro X printers will be relatively affordable. While no official announcements have been made, single-function models will likely start below $500 and multifunction models should start around $649. Very little is known about HP’s new pigment-based inks for the Officejet Pro X, other than HP’s claim that cost-per-page will be half of competing lasers.
With the Officejet Pro X series, HP will be returning to a price band that its Officejet business inkjets have not occupied since 2005. In recent years, inkjet printers priced above $500 have met stiff resistance from retailers, due in part to a bias towards business lasers offering higher page volumes. At the same time, devices in this $500 to $1,000 region often lacked the margins to make them an attractive offering to channel partners. Today, approximately 90% of inkjet printers tracked by gap intelligence are priced below $300, with just a handful of stronger models breaking into more lucrative price points that are otherwise firmly controlled by business lasers.
With the launch of the Officejet Pro X series and its incredibly fast color print speeds, HP is positioning itself to expand back into higher price bands and retake printer accounts occupied by laser over the past decade. Though many details of the Officejet Pro X launch remain a mystery, HP has made it clear that it will utilize every channel available to target micro, small, and medium business customers. And while entirely speculative, initial channel pricing for the Officejet Pro X series suggests that resellers should expect to earn similar margins on the new inkjets as those earned from sales of HP’s LaserJet line, which would help to negate resellers’ laser bias.
At this point, it is far too early to tell whether HP’s Officejet Pro X series and PageWide technology will be a success. But, HP’s momentous October announcement and aggressive pricing shows that the vendor is fully committed to the platform, and believes that PageWide is the key to inkjet eventually breaking into more valuable managed business accounts. After years of laser dominating share in the business segment, HP has quietly positioned itself to shift momentum back in inkjet’s favor.