Monday, January 17, 2011

Samsung and Mobile Printing

I must say that Samsung is not the first name I think of when it comes to printing. From my point of view, they have a pretty generic line of relatively low cost monochrome and color laser printers, for individual and workgroup applications. Nothing to get too worked up about in general. I do love their LCD screens, though, owning several of them.

And recently, they've made quite a splash with their Android phones and the Galaxy Tab. These have been well received, albeit not to the same degree as the iPhone and iPad, but that's at least partially because they don't have Steve Jobs whipping up the fan boys into a frenzy.

At CES (the Consumer Electronics Show), held in Las Vegas last week, Samsung introduced wireless mobile printing for Android, ala Apple's AirPrint. Apparently, this is not the first announcement of this kind for Android, with Motorola pre-announcing something called "Motoprint" at the CTIA (the cell phone industry's big confab) last October. This does not seem to be available yet, so we will stay tuned for that.

Samsung's MobilePrint app, as they call it, is available for both Android and iOS mobile devices to connect and print to Samsung wireless printers.

The press release, dated January 5th, 2011, claims that the apps will be free, and will be "built-in" to the Galaxy Tab beginning in 2011. The company claims the application will be compatible with all existing and new Samsung wireless and network printers.

I don't have much in the way of technical details, but the two things that set this announcement apart are the claimed backward compatibility (which is interesting but may also mean the actual printing functionality could be limited) and the availability of the app on both the Google and Apple platforms. Read the press release here.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

iPad is... Printing (via AirPrint)

I must say I was pretty blown away when I first saw the Apple "iPad is Amazing" commercial, although since I've seen it about 1,000 times now, I find the music a little annoying. What impressed me about it initially is the fact that it starts out with an "iPad is..." premise, and the first thing it proclaims the iPad to be is, printing! I never doubted that Apple knew the lack of printing was a big gap at launch, but it's still nice to see them promoting it in a big way in a major TV commercial that has now been seen by millions and millions of people. And putting it before the other "amazing" things about the iPad, in fact, is kind of amazing. If you haven't seen the commercial, check it out on YouTube, here.

So let's talk for a moment about what makes this possible on the iPad, which is the technology called AirPrint, requiring Apple IOS 4.2 or later, and an HP ePrint-compatible printer. Today, AirPrint itself only works with HP printers that support ePrint (more on this later.)

According to HP, ePrint evolved from CloudPrint, an innovative technology created by HP Labs, the company's central research and development group. Apple AirPrint on an IOS 4.2 and later device (like an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad) finds printers on WiFi networks and then allows printing text, photos and graphics to them without the need to install drivers or special software.

iPad, iPhone and iPod touch users running IOS 4.2 and later will find a new print function within apps on their device. They can simply tap the "action" icon, then tap the "Print" button, configure printing options, then tap "Print".

A printer must be specifically ePrint enabled. Printing to a device attached to another computer is not possible with AirPrint. There are now several HP printers that support ePrint, and HP maintains a growing list of such devices. The latest one to catch my eye at this writing is the Laserjet Pro CM1415FNW, which is an amazing color laser desktop MFP, at a very attractive price, with an incredible feature set. I believe this is the first Laserjet to support ePrint, the other printers being inkjets. Get the datasheet here.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Printing in the Post PC Era

Over the holidays I did a lot of thinking about this blog, and my only New Year's resolution for 2011 is to post here more regularly. Not because I like hearing myself talk, but because the subject matter has never been more relevant, and is in fact going to heat up this year. That should make it a relatively easy resolution to keep!

Last summer, at the D8 conference, Steve Jobs made some waves when he introduced the idea of the "post PC era." Jobs said the day is coming when only one out of every few people will need a traditional computer. "When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks because that's what you needed on the farms."

"PCs are going to be like trucks," Jobs said. "They are still going to be around." However, he said, only "one out of x people will need them."

Jobs said that this idea makes many PC veterans uneasy, "because the PC has taken us a long ways." And he went on to say, "We like to talk about the post-PC era, but when it really starts to happen, it's uncomfortable," he said.

It's an apt description, and is so much more than another excellent Apple branding campaign. The iPad was met with a lot of excitement, and some skepticism. There is still some skepticism around how publishing, ebooks, magazines, newspapers and other media-related businesses will fare on the new platform. But one thing has become crystal clear since Steve's D8 appearance: the iPad is a major hit, and it is in fact only the beginning of a new computing paradigm.

That paradigm is the fourth major computing shift: the Cloud/Mobile paradigm, which I think is aptly referred to as the "Post PC" era (the first three shifts arguably being the mainframe to minicomputer, minicomputer/workstation to networked PC, and the Internet.)

I realized that this is exactly what we are talking about here. The Rich Internet Printing concept is very much "printing in the post PC era".

Apple's AirPrint, HP ePrint, Google Cloud Printing; whatever Microsoft creates (presumably in the near future) to enable their tablet and cloud printing strategy. Service providers like EFI with PrintMe. Software from a variety of third-party vendors who enable printing from non-PC devices.

David and I are co-authoring a paper for the 2011 TAGA Advanced Technology Conference in Pittsburgh this coming March (visit TAGA's website for more information.) I'm going to use some posts here to vet the topics we are working on for that highly esoteric academic paper, but in a more accessible format.

We will do a deep dive into the applications, and report on the opportunities, challenges and limitations, and success stories. Stay tuned.