The pandemic has rewritten the rules to the game, in some form, for most industries, but it hit the tech industry in a particularly interesting way. Companies had to pivot virtually overnight to keep the lights on for the most significant influx of remote workers and students the world has ever seen. One of the impacts of this sea change is that the demand for printing is up by an estimated 6%. This reflects the fact that an office printer is no longer an option for these users.
This week, industry mainstay HP Inc. announced HP+. Designed for consumers and small businesses, HP+ is a new, totally cloud-based ecosystem designed, in HP's words, "for the new hybrid models of how we live and work." With HP+, HP seeks to provide a more sustainable, secure and productive model for printing, with the compelling vision of enabling customers to print from anywhere, at any time. I had the chance to chat with HP Print President Tuan Tran on the new offering.
What is it?
HP+ consolidates all of the company's printing offerings into one smart ecosystem, including HP's latest printer hardware, supplies subscription service (more on that later) and its Smart App for printing, which now resides in the cloud. HP's Smart App boasts an astonishing 48 million-plus active monthly users and is an integral component to HP's mobile print-from-anywhere strategy. The app also facilitates easy access to Google Drive, Dropbox and other file storage options.
In addition to bringing these separate elements together, HP+ introduced several new features designed to help customers stay better connected and more secure during their printing experience. Smart Security monitoring promises to aid in the detection and prevention of malware attacks. Meanwhile, the Cloud resiliency feature purports to detect and mitigate connectivity issues automatically and native in-OS printing lets customers print from almost anywhere on any device. Private Pickup allows users to click print now from the app and pick up later when they can access the printer. Users manage this array of features with one unified Smart Dashboard.
Eco-friendly as it can get
One of my favorite things about HP is its long-time commitment to environmental sustainability. Instant Ink, one of the subscription services available through HP+, is an excellent example of this. Instant Ink handles the re-up and recovery of toner and laser printer ink, delivering new cartridges to customers' doorsteps and recovering their old, used cartridges for recycling. Customers' cloud-connected printers automatically initiate a delivery when Ink running low, so the customer hardly has to lift a finger, aside from pulling out the old cartridge and putting in a new one. Instant Ink boasts nine million-plus subscribers—that's a lot of plastic that doesn't end up in the landfill.
In addition to this, HP announced a new printing framework it calls Forest First. Extending beyond HP Inc's existing sustainable fiber sourcing programs, Forest First will include multiple NGO partnerships with organizations that help boost responsible forest management. As part of the strategy, HP promises to help develop Science-Based Targets to move organizations towards a more forest-positive posture. Ultimately, the company aims to offset its impact and reach net-zero deforestation in its printing business with the initiative.
How do I get access?
The first printers that will launch with HP+ are the new HP LaserJet M200 Series, the HP OfficeJet Pro 8000e and 9000e Series, the DeskJet 2700e and 4100e series, and last, the ENVY 6000 and 6400 series. Additionally, upon activation (on ink) or choice to purchase HP+ specific hardware (on laser) new HP+ customers can enjoy several limited-time sign-up perks. These include a six-month trial of Ink or toner (through Instant Ink), one extra year of HP warranty and 24-month access to the advanced version of the HP+ app, with features like advanced scanning, mobile fax and more.
I see HP+ as a welcome, refreshing move that embraces the pandemic's new reality and norms. Modern customers are starting to notice the disparity between their shiny new devices, their hybrid work model and the same old printing process that has yet to catch up with the times. There's no time like the present for a revamp of the puzzlingly slow-to-evolve printer industry, and HP is the one to do it. Strategically, I believe HP has an advantage here for many reasons. Cloud enablement requires a great degree of security and trust. HP, unlike other printer manufacturers, has a robust PC business where it excels at security. HP’s printers adopt very similar security properties as its PCs. Security is a big resource game and I cannot imagine other printer vendors having the resources to secure their printers. Also already has a very successful business in “as-a-service” printing and while HP can still learn a few tricks, it’s far ahead of everybody else from my vantage point.
Additionally, playing up the sustainability angle is a good call—good for the planet and good for business. As more millennials and zoomers reach adulthood and employment, there is a rapidly growing consumer desire to support companies that reflect their values and avoid those who don't. From the actual printer to the Ink, to the cartridges and the paper, I believe you're in trustworthy hands with HP Inc. I can't think of another, more capable printer manufacturer.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article.