Kodak inkjets doomed to failure, says Epson
By Dave Stevenson in Spain
Posted on 14 Jun 2007 at 16:17
Epson has taken the extraordinary step of naming and shaming manufacturers and products that it feels aren't living up to its standards. HP, Canon and Kodak were all accused of falling short of the mark during a press launch for a new range of printers and multifunction devices.
First up for a bloodied nose was Kodak. Epson welcomed the former-film company into the market but the knives were soon out. 'I doubt the Kodak proposition will work,' said Robert Clark, Epson's Director of Inkjet Business. He claimed Kodak's printers would reach the end of their life-cycles before the consumer had recouped the cost of the hardware through cheaper ink.
To back up its claims, Epson commissioned a study from TUV Rheinland into ink efficiency. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Epson's cartridges were found to be highly efficient, with single-ink tanks more efficient than the tri- or five-colour tanks used by competitors such as HP.
Again, Kodak came in for a bludgeoning, with Hartmut Muller-Gerbes from TUV saying the study had found the EasyShare 5300 used just 36 per cent of the ink in its tanks before one colour ran out and the cartridge had to be discarded. It was the worst performer in the test. Clark said '64 per cent wastage is pretty outlandish', but that he was 'not picking on Kodak'.
But efficiency isn't everything in a printer, and Epson was reluctant to discuss specific page yields and costs at its launch event, instead referring reporters to official ISO yields.
Muller-Gerbes admitted that TUV's test wasn't interested in 'how much money the consumer would waste', but the 'ecological outcome'. Later, however, in an unguarded moment, he said 'this is a marketing point of view', and it doesn't take a particularly fertile imagination to see how consumers might be more worried about the cost of their prints than discarding a few millilitres of unused ink.
Epson also launched an attack on its scanner rivals. The company made a point of demonstrating the minimal difference between the HP G4050's 48-bit and 96-bit scanning. A few minutes later, fingers were pointed at the Canoscan 8600F for its poor performance in Epson's tests.
Then, in a different breakout session, Epson held up HP's range of office inkjet printers as a specific example of products that slower than its own.
Fierce competition in the printer market is nothing new, but traditional shorthand for close rivals in the IT industry is normally simply 'our competitor'.
Clark defended Epson's unusually aggresive stance, claiming: 'I took the decision to do it... to give you more value', describing the indistinct 'competitors' term as 'nebulous'. But old habits die hard: 'you might see more of it from our competitors,' he suggested.
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