The fight back: Refill ‘er up

Via MAKE – printer cartridge refilling stations are about to become a lot more widespread in major store chains in the US, such as Walgreens and OfficeMax (as opposed to the existing Cartridge World-type refill stores).

From the Chicago Tribune article:

“Burt Yarkin, chief executive at Cartridge World’s U.S. business, said that’s because printermakers follow an age-old business philosophy. “They will give you the razors and charge you for the razor blades,” he said.

The biggest challenge for his chain, which has about 20 stores across Chicago and 370 in the U.S., is to educate people that most cartridges can be refilled.

“Walgreens getting into this business legitimizes what we do,” Yarkin said. “It’s a good thing for us.”

This emerging market also will put additional pressure on companies like Hewlett-Packard Co., where about 70 percent of profit in the printer business come from supplies.

HP has “seen their supplies business get slowly eaten away,” said Peter Grant, a research vice president for Gartner Inc. “About 15 to 20 percent of their business is going to these third parties.”

But Pradeep Jotwani, HP’s senior vice president of imaging and printing supplies, dismisses those concerns.

“We’ve been in this business for 22 years,” Jotwani said. “We’ve had competition all along. It’s taken various forms at different times. This is just another wave.””

It will be interesting to see how this sits with a) users’ printer warranties, and b) embedded DRM and similar architectures of control in printers and cartridges specifically intended to prevent refilling or make it less desirable to do so.