PC Pal's Jat Mann on the shifting printer market

BLOG: Why I don’t bother stocking printers

Jat Mann, founder and MD of computer support franchise PC PAL, explains why his firm doesn’t supply printers.

We currently do not supply printers simply due to the huge price competition in the market, with the likes of PC World, Amazon and Tesco dropping prices for printers in a bid to increase market share.

Previously, a printer was a significant purchase, both in terms of price, output quality and functionality. However, for under £50 you can purchase a solid all-in-one printer/copier/scanner that will suit the average consumer’s needs perfectly. 

However, there is a sting in the tail of printers becoming more affordable – and that is the cost of replacing ink. We have heard from several aggrieved customers who are stunned that cost of replacing ink cartridges from the manufacturer is often more expensive than the initial purchase price of true printer.

It has been reported in the media several times that by weight, some replacement printer inks are more expensive than gold. That’s right – gold!

Additionally, ink jet printers now tend to come with literally a drop of ink, leaving the customer with the unexpected costs of immediately buying replacements. All in all, it appears that ink jet printers may well be sold as a ‘loss leader’ in order to entice the customer to spend more money on related items and consumables.

Repairing printers are also virtually a thing in the consumer market, with only the high-end photo quality ink jets and expensive laser printers making it more cost effective to repair rather than replace.

Consumers are also using mobile devices like tablets and larger smartphones, reducing the need to print items to read them. The ability to easily zoom in, flick between pages and take documents with you whilst on the move seems to be becoming more popular, particularly against the backdrop of the increase in replacement inks. I, for one, certainly think carefully before hitting the print button.

Then there are 3D printers. These are very exciting, but it’s still early days in terms of their functionality and affordability. It’s in the ‘early adopters’ phase currently but hopefully prices will tumble further and capabilities will increase to a point where they become as ubiquitous as the iPad. 

The thought of being able to print a tiny part that one has accidentally snapped off a device is certainly appealing, but until schematics for gadgets and goods become available, and 3D printer prices drop, it won’t hit mass market.

About the author

Jat Mann is the founder and MD of UK computer support franchise PC PAL.

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