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
    dasmb, 7 Feb 2007 @ 7:51am

    Replacement cartridges

    One of the reasons third party replacement cartridges are a lot cheaper is that they're made with much lower standards. The ink doesn't bond the same as manufacturer's ink, it isn't reactive to the nozzle magnets in the same way which can cause clogs and it's not the same color, not even between different cartridges from the same company! I run a color test every time I change a cartridge and am often shocked how different a given "color" can look.

    This is bad, because your printer knows pretty exactly what colors it's "supposed" to spray with the company's inks. Change the color or the properties of the inks, and you start printing differently because the printer's doing the wrong thing for that type of ink. Cheap inks tend toward bronzing and some don't combine very well -- I lost a lot of good prints to a cheap black cartridge that created "bubbles" on any dark texture.

    There are some good third party inks -- I've had good success with MIS (www.inksupply.com) -- but on the whole, the cheapest inks are unreliable and isn't worth the savings to me.

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