Actionable Intelligence Crowns Its Top Stories of 2011

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by Christina Bonadio, Executive Editor, Actionable Intelligence

Over the past year, Actionable Intelligence has broken news and analyzed many of the printer and supplies industry’s top stories. In this column, I explore some of our most popular articles of the past year and share some key developments at Actionable Intelligence.

As skilled multitaskers accustomed to wearing multiple hats, we have appointed this both our “Happy Birthday, Actionable Intelligence“ hat and our “Shameless Huckster” hat

Before launching into the year’s top stories in terms of overall number of visits, I would like to don my shameless huckster hat and point out that the Actionable Intelligence website itself is a “new development” in 2011. The Actionable Intelligence website was officially launched in January. Since then, our company has learned a lot about the types of content our readers most value, and we continually change our site to better meet your needs. In addition to the small tweaks you will see from time to time, Actionable Intelligence undertook a major relaunch of the site this summer to include premium content available only to subscribers, new categories of content, and hundreds of unique tags that improve the way you can sort content.

Recently, Actionable Intelligence achieved a couple of major milestones. We surpassed 100,000 visits this fall. Our visitors come from a stunning 175 different countries—although the United States is by far our biggest audience, followed by the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, and China.

This fall, Actionable Intelligence also published its 400th article. By year’s end, I estimate we will have published about 450 articles.  For those of you debating whether to purchase a subscription, I’d like to point out that while our annual subscription price of $239 is an excellent value on a monthly basis at less than $20 a month, it is an even better value on an article basis at 53 cents per story. That concludes the end of my sales pitch. I’ll leave sales to Mr. Brewer who is far more adept at that kind of thing.

Our “greatest hits” of 2011—our top 10 most popular stories in terms of “hits”—provide a snapshot of the concerns facing the printer and supplies industry over the past year. They also reveal some interesting lessons we learned about online media.

Actionable Intelligence’s Top 10 Stories of 2011

  1. Lodsys Launches Patent-Infringement Suit against Brother, Canon, HP, Lexmark, Samsung, and Others: This article is far-and-away our most popular story of 2011. It became our most visited post because it was of interest to app developers and the fanatical Mac community. This February story about a little known patent-licensing company suing various printer OEMs exploded in popularity in May when Lodsys sued various developers producing apps for the Apple iOS platform. When people began searching for more information on the Lodsys matter, numerous Mac sites and forums linked back to our article. Clearly, writing about anything related to Apple is a booming business, and backlinks helped drive this story’s popularity.
  2. Crisis in Japan and the Printer, Copier, and Supplies Industries: Part 1—The Events and the OEMs:  Our March 21 story on the earthquake and tsunami in Japan proved immensely popular, as the industry searched for information on how this disaster would affect printer OEMs and supplies firms.
  3. Crisis in Japan and the Printer, Copier, and Supplies Industries: Part 2—Imaging Chemicals and Supplies: Our third most popular article also focused on the disaster in Japan and its impact on manufacturers of key components used in supplies.
  4. Ricoh Announces Massive Layoffs Are Ahead: Apparently nothing draws readers, or search engines, like a title that includes the phrase “massive layoffs.” News that Ricoh would shed 10,000 jobs also showed how uncertain economic times, continued print volume declines, and a competitive environment could affect even one of Japan’s biggest copier OEMs.
  5. HP Warns Distributors That Japanese Earthquake Will Impact Toner Cartridge Availability: Our article about a list of HP SKUs placed on managed allocation again demonstrates that the earthquake and tsunami in Japan was perhaps the top industry story of 2011. This particular story may have offered some of the first concrete evidence that the natural disaster in Japan would have a significant effect on OEMs.
  6. Kodak Introduces New Kodak 30 and 30XL Inkjet Cartridges in ESP C310 All-in-One: To be honest, that this is one of our all-time most popular stories has always puzzled us. For sure, Kodak’s launch of a new series of ink tanks was big news, but we actually had fewer details about these tanks in this initial January story than we did in some later articles. We’re guessing the enduring popularity of this story is due to a few factors: Actionable Inteligence’s good search engine optimization (SEO), the fact that search engines have gotten “smarter” about recognizing sites that develop lots of original content such as our own, and the self-perpetuating nature of a popular story to move up the ranks on a search engine over time.
  7. Brother, Canon, HP, and Lexmark Respond to Lodsys Patent-Infringement Lawsuit: Again, this story was popular largely because of the mania for all information related to Lodsys and Apple.
  8. Tohoku Earthquake Wreaks Havoc on Printer Industry Supply Chain: This update on the natural disaster in Japan was published six weeks after the earthquake and a few weeks after our first articles on the disaster. It includes some additional detail on damages to infrastructure, updates on the impact to OEMs, dwindling supplies of key chemicals, and information on product shortages.
  9. HP Toner Cartridge Shortage: It’s Not Over: Even before the earthquake in Japan, certain HP toner SKUs were in short supply. This story, looking at the reasons why and the opportunities for the aftermarket, was hugely popular in the first half of the year.
  10. Rumors Circulate That Lexmark Firmware Update Locks Out Non-OEM Supplies: The news that Lexmark was using a seemingly routine firmware update for its Vizix inkjets to prevent the use of non-OEM supplies caused an uproar in the end-user community as well as in the  remanufactured and compatible supplies industry. As was the case with our number-six story, we think some of our later updates are more informative than was this initial article, but this story, written in January, had the virtue of being first and grabbing lots of reader attention off the bat. Thus, it undoubtedly is ranked higher in search engines than some later stories.

This top 10 list portrays the printer and supplies industry in a rather dismal light, as it is dominated by news of patent trolls, natural disasters, product shortages, layoffs, and sneaky OEM firmware updates. While 2011 ended up being a much harder year for many firms than some initially projected, our story list did not solely consist of tales of doom and gloom. We covered trade shows, exciting new product launches, environmental endeavors, and companies that were announcing expansions our other growth initiatives. I think the top 10 list is largely so negative because as humans we actively seek out information on the bad stuff that happens to assess if and how it will affect us.

But while the fact that the “feel bad” stories proved popular did not surprise me, something else about this list did: not a single article on 2011’s numerous industry lawsuits, aside from the two Lodsys articles, made the top 10. In a year when Canon, HP, and Lexmark all saw key victories in protecting their supplies business, and Epson’s legal battle against Ninestar heated up in various courtrooms, we would have guessed one or more of these stories would have made the top 10. These lawsuits will shape the industry for years to come. Only one of our articles on OEM versus aftermarket lawsuits cracked the list of our 20 most popular articles. Our guess is that while such stories are of interest to the printer and supplies industry professionals who make up our target audience and subscribers, these more specialized stories never caught on among consumers, financial analysts, or the more generalized IT readers who can drive a story’s popularity.

Actionable Intelligence looks forward to serving your printer and supplies industry information needs in 2012. We have lots of exciting plans for the site and the company in the year ahead. While we don’t wish to tip our hand too soon, we plan on offering you much more in 2012. Make sure to visit often!

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