Kodak has sponsored a series of polls on the PC Advisor website (www.pcadvisor.co.uk). A few months back, a Kodak-sponsored poll found that home-office users favor inkjet printers over laser devices (see “PC Advisor’s Kodak-Sponsored Study Finds Inkjet the Top Choice for Home Offices”). The partners’ latest poll finds that when asked what devices they print on at home, 61 percent of the 77 respondents said “PC/laptop only.” PC Advisor states, “This is despite the ease with which it is now possible to print from mobile phones, tablets, indeed any web-connected device.”
Indeed, printer OEMs are focusing much of their development efforts these days on rolling out new hardware that is capable of supporting printing from mobile devices, along with various mobile printing software and apps. This is part of a concerted effort to make printing more relevant to mobile users, particularly as home printer users’ print volumes continue to dwindle. However, it seems that despite the proliferation of options, most home users in PC Advisor’s small sample have yet to take advantage of the mobile printing options at their disposal.
Still, some home printer users are using these technologies, which is good news for printer makers. PC Advisor found that 25 percent of respondents print from mobile devices exclusively or in combination with other devices (12 percent print from both PCs and tablets, 1 percent of respondents print from PCs and mobile phones, 1 percent print only from tablets, 1 percent print only from mobile phones, and 10 percent of respondents print from all of the devices—PC/laptops, tablets, and mobile phones).
On the other hand, 13 percent of respondents say that don’t print at all at home. PC Advisor suggests that these end users are may be deterred by other print media and “the quality of home printers, particularly when printing photos.”
In our estimation, it is not the quality of inkjet-printed photos and more likely the time-consuming nature of printing photos at home and the ease and cost advantages of ordering prints online or at retail that is deterring home photo printing. But home printing itself is dwindling in general, in large part due to the proliferation of mobile electronic devices that replace the need for hardcopy altogether.
We expect that more home users will gradually begin printing from mobile devices. But will this make up for the large volume of pages lost to electronic media or other printing options? That seems nigh impossible. Still, if home printers are to remain more relevant than buggy whips, printer vendors must continue to make printing easy and convenient to mobile gadget lovers, even as they continue to target those printing more traditionally from PCs and laptops.
What would be interesting to see is a follow-up poll on print volumes and how they have changed that asks how many pages are printed each month by each type of home printer user—those who print from laptops/PCs and those who print from a combination of devices including a mobile devices—and whether each type of home printer user’s print volumes have increased or declined compared with five years ago. If printer OEMs’ quarterly financial results are any indication, it would seem a safe bet that no matter what device home printer users choose to print from, they are printing much less than in years past.