Business

HP’s Boise campus spurs fresh push into shrinking printer market

HP Inc.’s new line of printers will hit the market in May.
HP Inc.’s new line of printers will hit the market in May. Provided by HP Inc.

Monday was a big day for HP Inc. and for its Boise campus.

The company unveiled a line of printers it says are faster, smarter and more cost-effective than those offered by competitors. HP also announced the purchase of Samsung Electronic Co.’s printer business for $1.05 billion.

David Laing, the Boise-based general manager of HP OfficeJet Enterprise, said several thousand Boise employees worked on the engineering, testing, design and launch of the new printers, which will hit the market in May.

“A lot of the work that makes this real is right here in Boise,” Laing told the Idaho Statesman. “We’re hopeful that leads to growth as a company, and that that leads to employment growth for the Boise site.”

Hewlett-Packard Co. split last November into two businesses: HP Inc., which sells printers, ink, toner and personal computers; and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, which sells data storage, software and servers.

Both companies have employees at the longtime HP campus at 11311 Chinden Blvd., though HP Inc. has the most, reflecting the site’s traditional emphasis on printing technology. The company declines to say how many workers it has in Boise, though the pre-split company employed nearly 4,000 two years ago.

Printers have been a declining business for HP Inc. Its printing revenue fell 14 percent in the latest quarter compared with a year ago, with unit sales down 10 percent and supplies, such as ink and toner, down 18 percent.

HP hopes some of the new printers will help it crack what is known as the floor printer market, where businesses typically pay companies that sell printers, such as Fisher’s Technology in Boise, to service and repair large printers and copiers over time. Floor printers can print 11-inch-by-17-inch pages, known as “A3” in the industry. They are made by companies such as Xerox, Canon and Ricoh.

HP has about one-third of the market for desktop printers, its core printer business, Laing said. It has just 3 or 4 percent of the market for floor printers.

The new line includes 54 printers ranging from small desktop machines that print 25 copies per minute to A3 machines printing up to 55 copies per minute. Laing says the printers will include a level of cybersecurity unmatched in the industry.

The line includes new “PageWide” printers with almost no moving parts.

About 40 percent of the devices serviced by Boise copier services company Fisher’s Technology are HP’s, CEO Chris Taylor told the Statesman.

“It’s exciting for companies like Fisher’s that HP is committed to investing into us as providers,” Taylor said. “In the past, they’ve been more of a direct [seller].”

Businesses now pay their copy-services providers up to five times more for color pages than for black-and-white ones, Laing said. PageWide printers allow businesses to pay based on the amount color used. That will make small color elements, such as company logos, instantly more affordable, he said.

The new printers also feature more sensors than previous models. The sensors feed data to the cloud, flagging parts that need to be replaced before they break or run dry, Laing said. That means printers will spend less time offline and service professionals can take on more work in a single visit.

“Traditional copier service managers did that through experience,” Laing said. “We’re turning that into a science with big data.”

Meanwhile, HP said the Samsung purchase provides products, patents and workers that will help HP “disrupt and reinvent” the $55 billion copier industry with advanced multifunction-printer technology. Multifunction devices scan, copy and fax.

Investors seemed to react favorably to Monday’s announcements. HP Inc.’s stock rose 54 cents, or 3.9 percent, closing at $14.49.

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