This week’s issue of Micro Mart features another cover piece of mine: The Printer Ink Wars. Yes, that’s what I called it. Oh, wait, it gets better.
In offices and homes around the world, a war is being fought. There are no explosions, and you won’t hear gunfire, but it’s a pitched battle for control of one of the most precious liquids known to man. The fight isn’t over oil or water but something even more valuable. It’s a conflict for control of the printer ink market.
I know, right? The piece takes an in-depth look at the ink and toner industry, both from the perspective of a printer manufacturer and from that of a compatible cartridge maker. To make sure the piece is as detailed and fair as possible, I sought comment from both sides of the fence. Interestingly, while numerous compatible cartridge makers were interested in talking to me – including the European Toner and Ink Remanufacturers’ Association (ETIRA,) the UK Cartridge Recyclers Association (UKCRA,) Amor Office Supplies, Green Cartridges and Cartridge World – the only printer maker that would talk to me on the subject was HP.
Thankfully, HP’s ink man, Mark Hurren, proved more than capable of fighting his corner. “I wish it had never been called ink,” he told me. “That makes it compared to everyday writing implements, which is unfair because it’s a much more technological product than that.”
The piece covers the growth of refills, the flood of dirt-cheap and intellectual property-infringing clone cartridges from Asia, and the patent issues surrounding recycled cartridges. It also contains some fairly inflammatory comment from Vincent van Dijk, general secretary of ETIRA – including the accusation that not all is as it seems with printer makers’ so-called ‘recycling’ programmes.
Micro Mart Issue 1198 will be on sale until the end of Wednesday next week, so if you want to find out more I suggest you take a trip to the newsagents sharpish.