Friday, November 6, 2020

HP Reneges on Free Instant Ink

Cory Doctorow (via Hacker News):

What they didn’t know was that they’ve been given an asymptomatic infection – a malicious update that only kicked in five months later, after everyone had had a good long time to update. That update’s real purpose was to detect and reject third party ink.


Every time HP got caught doing something evil, they had the same excuse: “that’s the deal we offered and you accepted it.”


Enter HP Instant Ink.

This is “ink as a service.” You pre-commit to printing a certain number of pages/month and they mail you ink, which they own. You’re not buying the ink, you’re buying the right to use it.


This is a weird and unpalatable idea, so to sell it, HP rolled out a pay-on-price “Free Ink for Life” plan that gave you 15 pages every month for as long as you owned your printer.

Instant Ink, as an option, isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but unfortunately HP is no longer honoring the deal. Starting in December, the free pages will cost $0.99/month.


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The best print is the one that does NOT print. Print as less as possible. Protect the environment.

Oh, look. Yet another "tech" company focussing on rent-seeking opportunities rather than innovation.

It is innovation. Consumers consistently purchase low-end subsidized printers due to their lower initial cost, versus paying more for enterprise/pro/ink tank models that don't have (as much) consumable-based subsidization.

Consumers keep telling HP, and other printer makers, what they want with their pocket books and they keep getting it.


Oh, so it was the invisible hand of the market, which just so happens to be in favour of blaming the victims of rapacious greed.

Printer companies are perfectly capable of making money hand over fist by selling expensive printers that require expensive ink. That was the state of affairs back in the early 90's when I upgraded from a dot matrix to an inkjet. The inkjet cost more than the dot matrix, but it was faster, and produced much better looking documents, so I steeled myself and bought one for about $200. And then made the company a lot more money by buying tons of ink cartridges for it until I wised up and bought a laser printer half a decade later.

@sam: Every person I know with a cheap disposable printer got it as part of a package deal with their computer. To claim that's "what they want" is like saying Windows PC buyers want to see lots of ads, or cable TV subscribers want the Golf channel.

No, they only want a lower price for the primary product, which the bundling enabled. That company made a deal that caused the bundle to have a more appealing sticker price for consumers. After all, a "free printer" is a good deal even if it's a piece of junk that only prints 3 pages before it dies. That's still 3 more printed pages than you would have otherwise had.

There's good evidence people don't actually want the crap products which are bundled with good products: consumers are overwhelmingly *not* buying those crap products outside of these bundles.

I bought an Epson ET-2550 exactly four years ago on Saturday. In that time I've printed loads, and have only had to fill up the black tank once, from a bottle that cost £10 and still has enough to fill up again in three years or so. The colour tanks are getting low, but I'm still on the original ink. The printer cost more initially, but I've gone years without needing to order more ink, and then got an inexpensive simple bottle of ink (Epson genuine, too). Definitely a win for both the environment and my budget. Such a great printer/scanner.

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