HP poised to enter low-cost printer market

Hewlett-Packard is introducing a new low-end line of inkjet printers under the Apollo brand name in the next few months. The devices are being developed and sold by Apollo Consumer Products, a new HP subsidiary. The single-cartridge printers could sell for as little as $US80 apiece

Hewlett-Packard is introducing a new low-end line of inkjet printers under the Apollo brand name in the next few months.

The devices are being developed and sold by Apollo Consumer Products, a new HP subsidiary. Exact pricing wasn't available, but the printers could sell for as little as $US80 apiece. On the downside, the devices are likely hold a single ink cartridge, as do other ultra low-end printers, requiring you to switch between cartridges depending on whether you want to print colour or monochrome. Concurrently, HP is cutting the price of the low-end DeskJet 420C inkjet printer in the US by about $US20.

While the impact of a move to make printers that will probably sell under the $200 mark has yet to gauged by HP in New Zealand, new products in this growing market segment are likely to be greeted with some enthusiasm by the company here. A number of printer companies, notably Canon and Epson, hold considerable share in the ultra low end segment of the NZ mar---ket. HP's manager for consumer printers Justin Tye, who was briefed on Apollo in Singapore last week, says with ultra-cheap printers the consumer wins and PC manufacturers win through bundling deals but the end-user gets a "pretty basic machine".

Apollo is operating with separate headquarters, management, distribution and sales and will offer its printers through regional distributors. Manufacturing and customer support will be handled with third-party contracts, and Apollo will -purchase print engine technology from

HP. Currently, the subsidiary has 10 employees.

IDC printer market analyst Pat Pilcher believes if Apollo expands into the Asia-Pacific it may take 12 to 18 months before Apollo printers make it to New Zealand. Pilcher says the venture could present

HP with a "considerable opportunity" for volume retailing or bundling but wonders if Apollo's structure will allow significant margin.

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