Updated: March 12, 2020 5:52:04 pm
By: Vinay Awasthi
Printing is perhaps one of the oldest technologies invented by man, dating as far back as 3000 BC in Mesopotamia. The invention of paper in the second century AD gave rise to a new era in printing, and Gutenberg’s printing press in the 15th century made it affordable for the masses. But modern printers, even as we remember them from a few years ago, have undergone a massive transformation.
Of office printers and cybercafes
Perhaps we all remember the time when we slyly took printouts for home, late in the evening in office or ran to the nearest cybercafe hours before a submission or presentation. While printers have always been factored into an organisation’s IT infrastructure, most families didn’t really consider getting one until a few years ago. Not only was it a cumbersome task to manage inks and supplies at home, but it was also an expensive proposition, especially if one had to get colour prints and that too in bulk. But printers have evolved dramatically be it in design, cost or technology.
Evolution of Printing needs with new-age learning
Transformation of educational practices has turned printers into learning tools. Rote is gradually giving way to experiential learning. School and homework today goes far beyond doing sums or balancing equations in notebooks. The emphasis is now on using visuals as a learning aid and develop assignments that promote teamwork and a stronger Emotional Quotient.
Most students in private schools now receive homework assignments on email, which are to be printed and completed. This shift to a ‘show and tell’ culture means that students now spend time in researching online, download and print visuals to support their homework and producing collaborative projects and reports as part of homework.
The availability of affordable printers that can handle high-volume, high-quality print requirements of school projects is enabling parents to provide the best possible learning tools for their children to learn and develop cognitive skills in a wholesome manner.
Another phenomenon that has transformed the way people access technology is the convergence of work and life. Rapid urbanisation, gig economy and digitalisation are macro trends that have not only transformed the office infrastructure but also the way people work. Today many professionals prefer to work from home, with PCs and Printers being at the core of home offices. Modern innovations like wireless and mobile printing have enhanced the experience, making it easy for everyone to access and use high-quality printing for various work, at the office as well as home.
The paradigm shift – the advent of tank technology
The cornerstone of this shift was perhaps the development of the tank technology for printers. Inkjet printing was relatively an expensive affair a few years ago, not to mention the unwieldy task of managing multiple ink cartridges. The advent of ink tank technologies made printing simpler, extremely cost-effective, with costs per page dropping down to a small fraction of the rupee. This enabled many home and small office users to consider owning a personal printer for the first time.
While the ink tank technology helped the adoption of printers at the lower end of the spectrum, businesses were looking for a similar solution for the demands of their needs, be it cost or security. What was needed was printers that were compact, simple to set up and operate, secure while integrating enhanced mobile printing and, deliver competitive print quality, all while maintaining the simplicity of ink tank printers.
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This was heralded by the development of the Laser Tank technology, which enabled hassle-free and rapid reloading of toner to the printers. The novel toner supply system in the Laser Tank printers made life easier for not only businesses but also consumers. And it didn’t require a specialist or technical expert to reload the toner. Enhanced security features have also enabled organizations to control access to printing only to authorized employees further, enabling data security.
The road ahead
The mainstream adoption of printers is expected to gather further momentum in the coming years. India has one of the youngest demography in the world. Quality education will remain a key agenda for students, their parents and the government alike. Coupled with the aggressive push on digitalization of businesses, across large enterprises, SMBs or Startups, printers will continue to be an intrinsic part of the ecosystem.
IDC’s latest Report for Printer Market in India (CY2019) has highlighted the migration of users to the Tank technology and expects greater adoption in 2020. These factors will continue to contribute significantly towards creating and nurturing an enabling environment for adoption and innovation of new age printers that are well designed, compact and have versatile functionalities to cater to the needs of the modern generation of users.
(The author is MD, HP Inc India, Bangladesh, and Srilanka)
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