Mobile Print is Like Twisted-Pair in Emerging Countries...and fax-servers in the late 90's.
African countries jumped from no phones to cell-phones and fax-servers sat idle while dozens of fax machines spit out rolls and rolls of Time-share advertisements.
We hear much about how the coming wave of mobility print. How the increase in digital content will lead to great demand in print. It is and always has been my contention that the increases in mobile devices DOES NOT EQUATE to huge print opportunities.
If it did, Apple would have included the ability in it's first generations - and continued to manufacture laser printers. If it did, Lexmark would not have gotten out of inkjets. If it did, HP wouldn't be laying off thousands, consuming the print division, be pitching a 'five year turnaround' or facing $14.00/share. Heck, Xerox would be able to break the 8 buck barrier if we all were looking to print off our smart devices.
There are two supporting issues many promoters of the "Next Stage/Era in managed print" base their pontifications upon:
- Increased end-user interest in mobile print
- Extreme growth in digital data a.k.a "Big Data and the Cloud"
Regardless, the Data Explosion DOES NOT EQUATE to huge print opportunities. If output volume had a direct, proportional relationship to cloud growth, we would all be printing reams and reams, every single day and instead of tagging photo's, we would be printing 5x7's and dropping them into the mail - but we don't.(see USPS)
The current mobile print solutions are it's own market. Organizations will roll-out mobile print systems but this will not result in increased print volume, it is a demand for a perceived need.
This is a difficult concept to get your head around - but let's try.
Think about this:
- IT folks want to keep their customers(end users) happy.
- All end users are buying tablets and smartphones(BYOD).
- When end users bring their devices to work, they ask IT to print
- IT departments run out, creating a buzz around "mobile print" demand, purchase and install some software - and watch end-users print maybe 500 images mobily. But no worries for the IT departments because they've delivered on another initiative and have happy end-users.
Speaking of buzz, it's real but certainly not organic.(that means the buzz is created, artificially) For instance:
"...solution providers in the managed print services (MPS) space also stand to gain by incorporating mobile print software, or solutions that allow users to print from their smartphones and tablets, into their broader MPS offerings..."
Agreed. But the MpS space would also benefit by incorporating EDM, unified communications, RMM, helpdesk, staff augmentation, mobility, etc. in their broader offerings.
"...We are on the verge of a mobile print expansion," said Jonathan Bees, research director at U.S. Hardcopy Device Usage Trends. "This shift away from dependence on desktop PCs and laptops for printing will provide users with the access and mobility they're looking for..."
Agreed. But the missed point is the "...shift away from dependence on desktop..." includes a shift away from dependence on print. The days of a printer for every PC have long since gone.
Quoting recent research from analysts Quocirca, which revealed 60% of businesses agreed that staff wanted to print from mobile devices but only 5% could offer it, the printer vendor called on more work to be done by firms.
"For businesses to remain competitive, it's crucial they support their employees to work in a more mobile, flexible way. This includes providing employees with the ability to access and print important business documents whether they are in their regular place of work, in another office, or on the move," said Emma Isichei, director of advanced solutions centre, Ricoh Europe.
"...Perhaps users are simply too concerned with being mobile and too immersed in the anytime anywhere experience - not to mention the ease with which photos, multimedia files and documents can simply be stored up the cloud - to care all that much about "printing stuff..."
This may be the closest suggestion to the truth - people don't care to print as much, because people don't care about printing.
The ONLY opportunity in Mobile Print is for the organizations who write the mobile print applications, not the print OEMs dependent on selling devices and not for the resellers surviving on the images(clicks) generated on those machines.
"It's A Trap!"
"Mobile Print demand" translates into more software being sold, not more prints. This deserves repeating:
The only people who look to profit from the "mobile print" market are those selling the software allowing people to print with their smartphones and tablets.
So yes, you'll hear all about research firms and software companies 'recognizing' the demand for mobile print - but you won't ever see any of them attaching a revenue stream to the output their impeccable research or whiz-bang software should produce. I doubt any of the OEM's will require mobile print capabilities as a commission gate.
Mobile Print? Yeah, I've heard of it, even sold a few. I just don't know all that many people printing 500 images a month from their 'Droids.
Perhaps the biggest reason we refer to them as smart devices is because they don't print.