Idea Still Waiting

A recent MacInTouch reader’s comment called attention to Farhad Manjoo’s polemical tract from Slate, directed against printer manufacturers. While Manjoo frames his essay in a way that muddies the case, I share his frustration with the market model for near-commodity goods such as printers (and razors and cell phones) — where the low cost of entry for the vehicle locks the buyer into very costly proprietary consumables (ink, blades, minutes). A couple of years ago I pleaded with the LazyWeb to put together a long-life, low-maintenance printer, but so far no one has gotten on board.
On the brighter side, Margaret’s home safely from her first week of work at Loyola; classes begin for her next week. Go, team!

4 thoughts on “Idea Still Waiting

  1. because the vehicle is *so* cheap, there is no lock-in: you can always switch quickly.

    for my part, ink-jet printers are such bad printers in the first place–except for photos on high glossy paper, where they are pretty nice–that i always buy a laser printer. much better cost-per-page anyhow, and far more attractive results.

    and, because there isn’t a marketing pressure to make the vehicle crazy-cheap, it can be made to be more durable.

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  3. William McDonough has some interersting things to say about designing products so that the waste is food, except in certain cases where the product must be proprietary; the manufacturer is responsible for proper disposal (computer screens, televisions, cpu’s, etc). See Cradle to Cradle or a speech at Chautauqua, “The City as Human Artifact in the Natural World.”

  4. I’ve heard that Xerox takes the “other” approach to printers–selling them at a higher price and having them be very cheap to operate and maintain. No personal experience with them myself, though.

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