Dell launches printers, Australia waits

Dell launches printers, Australia waits

Dell has marked its entry into a market long dominated by its rival HP, announcing four printers for personal and workgroup use. The company also provided details of a policy designed to encourage users to purchase ink replacement cartridges directly from Dell.

Dell’s competitors in Australia can expect to wait at least six to 12 months before the vendor considers launching the products in Australia. “In typical Dell style, we will trial it in the US for six to 12 months before taking it international,” a Dell Australia spokesperson said. “While there is no definite date, it would most probably happen toward the latter half of the year.”

As always, Dell is positioning the printers against its comp­etition based on price. For $US139, customers can buy a combination printer, scanner and copier with 4800 pixels by 1200 pixels resolution. A similar combination printer from HP costs as much as $US200 with the same printing quality, but with faxing capability, according to HP’s Web site.

“Dell’s first foray into printers will be accepted as good-enough technology by Dell’s many customers,” chief research officer for Aberdeen Group, Peter Kastner, said. “As a result, we would expect Dell to quickly become a material player in the business printer marketplace.”

Dell used to resell HP printers alongside its PCs, but announced last year it would enter the market in partnership with Lexmark as part of a strategy to diversify its offerings beyond PCs.

The A940 is a colour inkjet printer combined with a scanner and copier. The three other stand-alone printers are laser models. The P1500 is designed for both professionals and consumers, and costs $US289. Dell is also selling two workgroup level printers that come in both networked and non-networked versions. The S2500 costs $US499, while the S2500n for networks costs $US839.

Dell’s focus has always been on pricing and efficiency. “[It] does not have to have the world’s most innovative technology to meet most users’ needs most of the time,” Kastner said.

Besides price, Dell said the software included with the printers set them apart from the competition, according to vice-president and general manager of Dell’s imaging and printing group, Tim Peter, said.

Fighting back

Users receive prompts to replace cartridges when the ink level falls below a certain mark and a link to Dell’s Web site where replacement black and colour cartridges can be ordered appears on the user’s screen.

The workgroup printers sent messages through the network to administrators, Peters said.

Printer vendors do everything they can to make users buy replacement cartridges from them, because the margins are high and the revenue stream lasts as long as the printer. However, many users choose to buy replacement cartridges from other companies that refill and refurbish used cartridges, enabling them to offer the cartridges at prices far cheaper than the original manufacturer.

Lexmark is fighting back against third-party cartridge sales in a lawsuit against a component vendor, charging that company’s technology contains proprietary Lexmark code that allows cartridges manufactured by other vendors to work in Lexmark printers.

The Dell printers were not based on any of the Lexmark models that were part of that lawsuit, a Dell spokeswoman said.

Dell is offering users of P1500 or S2500 series printers a choice between standard cartridges or cartridges that come with a use and return policy that obligates the user to ship the cartridge back to Dell for recycling under a licensing agreement that takes effect when the user breaks the seal on the cartridge’s package.

Buyers of the standard cartridges are not bound by the licensing agreement.

The use and return cartridges contain a chip that disables the cartridge if it is refilled and replaced in a Dell printer, the spokesperson said.

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