The photocopier, an institution of the American workplace, may be headed for the trash heap.
Hewlett-Packard Co., the Palo Alto-based maker of printers and computers, is pushing the idea that copiers are a relic, soon to be overtaken by technologies the company is bringing to market this month.
The days of standing over the company copier as it slowly prints and collates that report for the boss could be over.
H-P officials say they plan to make many business copiers obsolete by replacing them with a faster, cheaper and easier-to-use combination of network scanners and laser printers. Such tools could produce "mopies," or multiple original prints.
"Our strategy is not to build office copiers but to do a flanking maneuver around them," said Richard Raimondi, general manager of H-P's business laserjet division in Boise, Idaho. "Copier revenue is expected to go down, and this will accelerate the decline."
For sure, personal copiers that cost a few hundred dollars aren't likely to go away anytime soon, nor will high-speed copiers that can produce scores of copies in a minute.
H-P's solution is aimed at business copiers that cost anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000 each. H-P's new network scanner, the H-P Scanjet 4Si, and a fast new laser printer that will hit the market within a week, will sell for a combined price of under $10,000.
To compete with less expensive copiers, H-P last month launched a $2,500 Copyjet, which is a combined color printer and copier.
At the heart of H-P's strategy is changing the habits of office workers. It must convince people that it's easier and more convenient to use a printer and scanner than the current model, in which someone makes paper copies and then distributes them to colleagues.
Raimondi says the new products allow someone to scan a document into a network scanner and use a personal computer to forward the electronic version of the document to a variety of people whose PCs are also hooked to the network.