This comes from an article (Jeremy Kirk, Computer World) about HP's new line of web-connected printers. It describes how HP is collaborating with Yahoo! with regard to its new web-connected printers to also provide targeted advertisements to users. Naturally, I am suspicious. Follow the jump for the rest of my take.
Truth be told, I am skeptical about the whole concept of a web-connected printer. Do we really need this much redundancy (in terms of web-connectedness) in our technology?
With that out of the way, I understand that HP and Yahoo! are trying to maximize revenues. That said, I feel like this crosses the line, because as customers are only going to be able to print the original material instead of selected sections, they will be wasting a lot of paper and ink/toner on ads. While paper is cheap (though it still shouldn't be wasted like this for environmental reasons), packs of ink aren't cheap — they can cost as much as a new printer. Who will be paying for this? Sadly, consumers. I would be delighted to see HP take on these costs, but given that ads will be printed alongside the desired material, HP taking on these costs is about as likely as the computer upon which I type now vanishing due to the laws of quantum mechanics.
Let me put it another way: In a bygone era (when copiers first came around), to make a copy of a newspaper article, one would clip out the relevant article from the newspaper and copy it. There was no obligation to leave ads in the copy. Now, when people print out copies of online articles, they copy the text to a text editor and print that (or they copy it to a word processor and remove the images). With web-connected printers, why must users be obligated to also print out advertisements?
I may sound like an old crank here, but why can't printers just stay as printers? My parents have two HP 600-series printers (one a 600C, the other a 670C), both of which work as well today as they did when they were bought new some 15 years ago. Their ink is cheap (thankfully), and they haven't had a single problem between them. All they do is print. I'm fine with multifunction printers, but why must web-based advertising complicate this simple process?