The art of bundling multiple functions into one device is paying off for Hewlett-Packard. In recent years it has used the concept to generate major gains in its printer sales.
One of the best examples of the consumer popularity of multi-function devices is HP's OfficeJet 350. The combination of mono printer, plain paper fax, OCR scanner and sheet feed copier sold one million units worldwide in only two years. By contrast, HP's single-function DeskJet printers tookthree times as long to reach the same sales volume, said Rob Hartnett, HP's market development manager, emerging products.
Now HP's taking the next step, which might be called super-bundling and consists of wrapping several other devices around a multi-function product and selling the collection as one package.
That's what HP will be doing with its new Photo Smart offering which will initially consist of a digital camera, high-end printer and multi-function scanner that handles prints, negatives and transparencies.
The Photo Smart suite is already available in the US and Australian shelves will see the digital camera next month, several months before the entire package is released, around September.
Photo Smart is designed to appeal to customers who want to put their photos on the Internet, including users interested in creating online catalogues of their product lines.
HP is sticking to its multi-function bundling formula with its just-released OfficeJet Pro, a combined high quality colour inkjet, colour photocopier and 600 by 300dpi flatbed colour scanner. Interestingly, one thing HP hasn't tossed into the pot with the OfficeJet Pro is a fax capability. That may be due to HP's calculation that most offices are already faxed to the max and don't need more of the same.
Multi-function or not, Hartnett does not see colour inkjets being supplanted by colour laser printers in the foreseeable future.
"It will be a long time before colour lasers drop below $1000 because the technology and manufacturing issues make it far easier to drive down the price of colour inkjet than colour laser."