why aren't there newcomers in printer marketplace with machines using easy-to-refill cartridges?

the question focuses on laster printers, but any relevant input about inkjets is also welcome.

Online I see a surprising amount of FUD surrounding refilling of cartridges and expiration of cartridges that will get detected by “it’s not malware, it’s a feature” more modern devices. So why don’t we see Dell/Acer style newcomers that would honestly promise “we sell you the printer for a reasonable price of $N, cartridges sell for 15% markup and are reusable between our different models, and we will not try to force you buy new ones on ‘expiration’”?

I realize that a newcomer is not likely to achieve the same sort of print quality as the company that has been around for decades, but then maybe they should sell to budget conscious small businesses and individuals who mostly print black-and-white text plus not-so-high quality pictures?

Are there patents or know-how technology issues that prevent establishment of new manufacturers for low end quality printers? Or what are the barriers to entry here?

Because people wouldn’t buy a printer priced as such, no matter how “fair” it is. People can be remarkably shortsighted.

Yep. Very few people, when looking for a printer, figure out the life-time cost of using it. They are walking into their local big box store, seeing a cheap unit from a name they know, and buying it.

“Oh look! This one is $20 cheaper, and does all the things I want it to do.”

maybe this calls for a marketing experiment? Let’s say advertise to small business owners an existing HP printer for “real cost” and a contract for supplying cartridges priced at what probably ought to be “fair price” nowadays for the first couple of years of operation. To carry it out we will basically subsidize the cartridges and write it off as “R&D expense”.

Does everybody think that we will not get willing buyers lining up at the door?

This is known as the Gillette model. King Gillette (his real name) struggled for years to get his razor accepted. He finally succeeded when he realized that selling the razor at cost, which you only need buy one of, would create a long-term market for selling his blades over and over, where the profit could be substantial.

Who would buy a razor that generated as much profit as a lifetime of blades? The majority of people price objects by how much money is going out of their pocket at any given time. It is a constant, found across industries.

There is always a small market for people who do price over lifetime use, to be sure. They’re already served with high priced products. Anybody could buy these, but they don’t.

And anybody who both cut the cost of the printer and subsidized the cartridges would be out of business in a year.

Speaking of efficiencies, wouldn’t a course in elementary economics be more efficient than having your misunderstandings shot down one by one in random fashion?

I believe the model calls for selling below cost.

paging Colibri - why are outside-the-pit snarky putdowns of my threads delivered without regard for the line of my argument (e.g. see post 5 by an individual whom I in the past have asked in no uncertain terms to put me on ignore list in recognition of the value of his/her contributions to my threads) get ignored while my responses to such earn me threats of a warning? http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showpost.php?p=13848646&postcount=10

Exapno. If you have a problem with the posts of anyone in GQ, report them or start a Pit thread. Thanks.

samclem Moderator.

The model calls for selling below a price that a competitor who does not profit from the ‘blades’ can maintain. In industry the practice is known as selling or making ‘razor blades’ when applied to any product.

I am a perfect case study.
I just bought a new printer. I bought one with a low price knowing I’d get hit on the back end buying ink.
Why would I do that?
My daughter had a project due in a week so I didn’t have the luxury of saving up to buy a more expensive model. Plus I don’t print that much. I may replace the cartriges once a year so my cost to “maintian” this printer is still pretty low.
So for me the initial outlay was more of a factor than my cost per page. I understand the economics and I’m comfortable that this pricing structure meets my needs.

I wouldn’t argue with the observation that the current cheap printer + expensive ink model makes good sense for individuals who print little. But notice that my OP is focused on small businesses / offices that, presumably, print a lot.

Am I incorrect in believing that these people get screwed big time by the policy of exorbitant prices for ink? And the deliberate effort to destroy the resale value of their ink inventories in the current inflationary environment just feels like adding insult to injury.

So people say that printer prices are allegedly subsidized. Does anybody by how much? Would prices double or increase by 10% without that? I will note that this industry has been around for decades, so the conventional wisdom about their business model could easy get out of date, such as if real printer production costs have declined along with all the other gadget prices whereas the ink still sells with big markup because the oligopoly is charging what the market will bear.

Yeah, maybe somebody should invent a laser printer that uses toner like copiers do and is more economical for businesses. But it must be impossible, or it would have been done before.

Can’t be that hard, I’ve seem plenty of machines that perform both functions.
I have a printer/copier in the room next to my office.

could you please clarify? I thought that laser printer already uses toner, which comes in the cartridge. Or is that incorrect?

Are the copiers different in that toner for them comes with less of a markup?

Is there right now a marked difference in price per printed page between an office laser printer and a typical office copy machine?

All laser printers use toner like copiers do.

The blades are the expensive part of a razor. They require special steel and tight tolerances to make sharp blades. The razor part is just a cheap handle that can be made of nearly anything with low tolerances. They should give away the handle and charge for the blades.

This is basically the opposite of an inkjet printer. The printer is full of moving parts and it ought to be cheap to refill the ink reservoir.

All laser printer use toner to my knowledge. And except for the initial cost of a printer, I understand that laser printers have a lower cost per page than inkjets over the life of the printer. That accounts for maintenance, as well as supplies. I’d have to look for a cite, and since it’s claimed by the laser printer manufacturers, it might be hard to prove. In my experience, any business that relies on printing above a minimal volume will use laser for black and white if they compare costs. New color lasers are expected at much lower cost soon (or so it has been said, tough to verify when the manufacturers make the claims).

ok, so why did you bring up the issue of copiers and said it would be nice if laser printer were somehow like the copier? Were you implying that printing a page in copier is cheaper than in laser printer for some so far unstated reason?

It’s certainly less economic and more time consuming than posting on a free messageboard.

Wouldn’t be much of a board if the reply to every question was “Why don’t you take a course in X?”

Kodak recently started using this sort of positioning (or at least, the general thought behind it). Within the past year, they have started talking about “fairly priced ink”, and having the “lowest total ink replacement cost” of any major inkjet printer brand.

Looking at their site, it looks like they’re retailing their B&W cartridges for around $10, and their color cartridges for $20 or less.