As HP continues their $300 million dollar advertising effort for Print 2.0, it’s interesting to take a look at what their approach entails. VJ Joshi gave the clearest expression of their vision during a presentation the Web 2.0 conference. In that, he made it clear that their “foundation is supplies”, mostly ink for personal printers.

While HP is taking tentative steps towards the concept of Print as a Service, their focus remains squarely on personal printers and how to increase the volume there. While they hedge their bets with purchases such as Snapfish, their priorities are clear. Which is probably as it should be for a company with an established $26 billion/year business in that area.

But the future isn’t for each consumer to run their own mini print shop (the current home print model). The future is for print to exist as a pure service. Need to mail a letter? Click and it’s printed, stuffed, stamped, and in the mail stream. Oh, and it’s printed at a higher quality than any home printer out there.

As we become more mobile, more networked, and more variable in our needs, maintaining personal manufacturing capability (even light manufacturing like print) makes less sense. Certainly some people will want to do their own printing, but they will rapidly become a minority.

At Postful, our approach is to build towards this rapidly accelerating transition. By moving print directly into the service cloud, we’re treating it as just another output format for the web. Information can be delivered on web pages, sms, voice, or print. The medium is no longer the message.

Of course this is not an absolute issue. There will continue to be a market for personal printers just as there continues to be a market for home woodworking shops. But, given current trends, the shift is definitively away from that model.

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