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HP to hike upfront price of printer hardware as ink biz growth runs dry

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Traditionally, printers were sold at a loss and the profit was generated by consumables over the lifetime of the device, in much the same way as the razor industry operates."

Just how old is this tradition? I doubt that printers were being sold at a loss when I first bought an HP printer. I suspect that somewhere along the line someone in what HP became decided that they could play this trick on customers provided they overcharged on cartridges. AFAICS there are a few of flaws with this.

The main one was that once third party makers realised they could make and sell cartridges profitably at much less than HP's price HP should have realised that that game was up. Cartridges had become a commodity and they should have readjusted then. Another is that if the disparity was great enough they could lose overall by customers replacing cheap printers before they'd bought enough cartridges to make back the upfront loss. Also, looking at the racks of different HP cartridge types in office supply shops I wonder if the cost of spreading cartridge sales across all that variety is cutting profits at that end of the chain.

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