Kodak's New Battle Plan: Cheap Printer Ink

from the ah,-finally! dept

For many years we've had stories about the ridiculously high price of inkjet printer ink. It is, according to some, one of the most expensive liquids around, costing more than vintage champagne. Someone once worked out that if you filled an Olympic-sized swimming pool with printer ink bought at retail, it would cost you $5.9 billion dollars (yes, with a b). Obviously, that's not the cost of manufacturing the ink, but includes hefty margins for the printer makers, who give away their printers cheap and make it up on the ink margins. The printer makers then go to extraordinary lengths, including using all sorts of intellectual property law to stop anyone else from selling ink for their printers. Some printer companies have also been accused of making ink cartridges expire while they still have plenty of ink. In fact, just a few months ago in a report about how Epson was blocking others from selling compatible ink, we wondered why no printer company saw this as an opportunity to come in and undercut these raw deals, and advertise heavily on the fact that they wouldn't rip you off on ink. Apparently, it was just a matter of time.

Kodak is supposedly announcing new photo printers today, with the explicit focus on the fact that their ink is a hell of a lot cheaper than anyone else's. In fact, they're also promoting that the ink cartridges hold a lot more ink, so you won't have to refill as often either. In other words, they're doing what any competitor in the space should do: beating the competition by offering what customers want, rather than trying to squeeze extra money out of them at the expense of reputation. The reports suggest that Kodak will still make plenty of margin on the ink sales, but that it might finally force some of the other printer companies to lower their prices a bit. Sometimes it takes a while, but it looks like the market is finally doing what it's supposed to.

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  1. identicon
    user, 6 Feb 2007 @ 6:51am

    oh brother...

    so my parents have a "nice" brother all in 1 printer, with a multi card reader and flatbed scanner.

    my mom useses it to make copies and color printouts of her spreadsheats, used in her business. one day she came yelling at me to "fix" her printer. it wouldn't print.

    after some digging, i found that the yellow ink was low (it's a 4 cartdridge printer) so i figured, hey, ok. just hit clear and we're good to go.

    not so fast. still didn't work.

    in my infinite wisdom, i called brother. what i was told AMZAED me. they said if one cardride was out of ink, the printer was disabled. i.e if you had no yellow ink, you couldn't print in b/w. WTF i asked why this was, they said it is a design feature. FEATURE. that's not a feature. now, to get the printer to work, i need to buy a yellow cardride. oops. they only sell 3 pack for like 50 bucks. i did find a yellow cardridge for 47 bucks. go figure.

    about a week later, her black ink runs out....same process. i install a new black cardrigde, thing lasts for 2 days, max. she can get at least 2-3 months out of it. called brother again, compalined. this time they sent us a new 4 pack ink. how nice.

    i'm just waiitng for the printer to go, it's the biggest piece of junk ever. don't buy brother.

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