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.

  2. Pingback: Idea Still Waiting
  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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