I've said it before, and I'll say it again. "I want more" is the simple statement that will kill the single-function printer. It is an ever-growing requirement that any "single function" device actually serves multiple purposes. Within the evolving and very mature print industry, one of the latest and most creative examples of turning "single" into "multi" is HP's new AMP 100.
There’s no arguing that overall consumer print is in decline, and HP knows this. So why invest in this fading part of the market? Because it’s important to understand that while consumer print is in decline, it still presents a major opportunity and includes a demographic that HP works hard to understand and entice to print.
A Risk HP is Willing to Take
HP touted in its latest quarterly earnings that revenue for its consumer hardware was up 12% and units increased by 3% year-over-year. This isn’t because more home users were printing. Rather, it is in part because HP identified unique ways to engage with an audience that didn’t grow up printing. Ever see the viral video of the baby swiping a magazine like it’s a tablet?
“Photo printing is dead” is a common statement heard across the printer industry, but HP still chose to reinvest in this segment of the market and even achieved success in it. While still investing in its core DeskJet- and Envy-brand consumer printers and AiOs, HP introduced the Sprocket. This printer uses Zink-based technology to print 2”x3” photos. From a hardware perspective, it’s hardly different when compared to other Zink-based devices in the market; however, HP achieved much of its success by differentiating its marketing. HP targets the younger demographic through avenues that resonate with them the most, including social media that features engaging and creative content.
Now, HP is taking yet another chance with its inkjet printer/speaker/charging station/etc. Distribution for the device is still limited to Walmart (available for $129), but it is expected that the device will continue to expand in US channels within the next few months.
The Single Function Printer with Multi-Function Capabilities
For all intents and purposes, HP's AMP 100 is a single function printer. The device is based on existing DeskJet configurations and can only perform traditional print-related functions (i.e. no copy/scan/fax). The typical DeskJet inkjet SFP from HP has a recommended monthly print volume of between 300- and 400-pages, as well as a monthly duty cycle of up to 1,000-pages. However, actual print volumes are likely much, much lower. With that, the number of touch points between the average DeskJet user and the SFP itself are likely far and few.
This is why HP’s AMP 100 is nothing like the DeskJets on which it is based. The SFP’s multi-function capabilities derive from its inclusion of a Bluetooth speaker and USB charging station. Customers can even answer calls using the printer. Remember the dot matrix printers configured to play “Eye of the Tiger?” It’s not like that; the device has real built-in Bluetooth speakers.
Now imagine a college student who has the AMP 100. Chances are they’re not thinking about printing. Instead, they’re likely using the device’s unique feature set to blast music and ensure their latest smartphone (which is probably serving its multi-function duty by serving as a music streaming device as well) is charged.
HP Plants the Seed
Though the AMP 100 may seem like a hasty move by HP to leverage existing inkjet technology and combine it with its Bluetooth business, it’s really not. For over one year, HP has emphasized its focus on reinvention and innovation. The AMP 100 was planned, and there’s a hidden strategic intention behind the device.
As I alluded to above, the AMP 100 doesn’t provoke a need to print. The print functionality is secondary to its projected most-used functions: to charge smartphones and to play music. It’s called “AMP” instead of “DeskJet” for a reason. With that, HP subtly adds “printer” touch points and plants a gentle reminder that the printer is indeed there.
Though customer reception still remains to be seen, HP’s introduction of its AMP 100 at the very least serves as yet another example of how the company is “reinventing” and keeping the SFP relevant.