When I go back and think about how different my life is today compared to 10 or 12 years ago, I can’t help but be amazed at how dramatically things have changed.
A handful of products and services have literally transformed how I live my life. Google, TiVo, Facebook, iPhone, Netflix. Each one of these has had a profound impact on daily life by increasing overall convenience and/or productivity by an order of magnitude.
TV commercials and blind channel surfing are both things of the past thanks to TiVo.
Virtually any friend or family member is within reach, no matter how often they’ve moved, changed numbers or email addresses thanks to Facebook.
Need directions to the in-law’s house while talking to mom and checking the latest reviews on best sushi in San Diego? There’s definitely an app for that. Can any of us remember how we possibly got by without our third hand? Er, I mean, our smart phone?
Information has never before been easier to find thanks to Google (now, if only they could think up a way to just as easily search for my car keys…).
And when was the last time I ventured into a Blockbuster to rent a movie?
What’s that? Blockbuster went bankrupt?? Oh… Hm… Well I guess I hadn’t really noticed since I get what I want to watch almost immediately for a fraction of what I used to spend on movie rentals each month thanks to Netflix.
So when I heard last week that HP was considering applying a Netflix-style business model to the printing business, my interest was naturally piqued. What exactly would that be worth? Where anyone with a printer and an internet connection could subscribe to a flat-fee service offering unlimited personalized content delivery, on demand, at any time? Sounds to me like an all-you-can-print buffet!
It’s pretty clear why such a model would be a dream-come-true for HP. Any service that encourages HP customers to print more and more often is a clear win for HP (don’t think ink tanks, rather ink trucks). But would this business model be a true win-win?
In an ideal system, if the content were there, then wouldn’t this system cause home users’ ink and toner expenditures to rise significantly, thus undermining the value to the user? With Netflix, there’s no more cost associated with using your DVD player or watching streamed videos after paying the monthly subscription. But would HP’s new Netflix-like printer business model, let’s call it “PrintFlix” (“NetPrint” was already taken…), include the cost of supplies as part of its monthly subscription? Therein lies the rub, I think. Time will tell, and according to HP, time may tell “soon – very soon.”
Today’s success stories are no longer measured by market share and sales growth; rather, by what magnitude has your product or service fundamentally transformed your customers’ lives? Lucky for HP, VJ has just the right amount of energy and vision to pull something like this off; but as always, the devil is in the details!