HP TAKES AIM AT WEB PAGES WITH SMART WEB PRINTING
Hewlett-Packard (HP) is looking to take advantage of
users' shift towards printing documents from the Web with its Smart Web
Printing Software technology.
At the recent Print 2.0 in New York City, Vyomesh
Joshi, executive vice president of HP’s Imaging and Printing Group, announced
that the company is transforming itself from a printer company to a printing
company. According to Ravi Adusumilli, software product manager with HP, there
are about 49 trillion total printed pages today, encompassing everything from
photographs, marketing collateral, billboards, newspapers and magazines, and
including both analog and digital, and HP controls about 1.6 percent of those
total printed pages. While only 10 percent of the 49 trillion pages currently
come from the digital arena, digital continues to grow, with one example being
the amount of pages being printed from the Web.
"We hope to get more of the pages printed with
this technology," Adusumilli said.
According to Adusumilli, HP got the idea for its Smart
Web Printing Software after talking to its customers and finding that about 50
percent of the printed pages from HP printers were coming from the Internet. Herein
lay the problem, as in addition to the content users wanted to read, they would
get all the advertisements they didn't need. Further, the content from the
right side of the page would typically be cut, and at times users would print a
page with just one line on it.
"People were copying and pasting into Word
because they just did not like the way Internet Explorer was printing," Adusumilli
said. "We looked into what solutions were available to make Web printing
easy, and there was nothing out there."
The first version of HP's Smart Web Printing Software
was launched in January of this year. Compatible with Internet Explorer 6, and
available to all users via a free download on HP's Web site (hp.com/go/smartwebprinting),
it enables users to fix the part of the page that typically gets cut on the
right side, and also shrinks the Web page so that everything prints on one
page. It also supports 21 worldwide languages. The tool is now available for
Internet Explorer 7.
The upgrades have come at a furious pace since then,
with version 2 launched in May and the third version planned for a launch in
November. Plans are already underway for version 4. The technology is
downloadable for free from HP's Web site, and usage is not limited to HP users
"Our goal is to put two to three releases online
every year," Adusumilli said. "We keep asking our users what they
want to see in the software, and then we quickly come back and update the
software and post it online."
Adusumilli continued, "Our users told us they do
not typically want to print everything on the page, but rather parts of the
page. Version 2 brought a clipping capability, in which users can select and
collect from different Web sites, then hit print when ready to print."
Version 3, launching this month, will bring with it more
flexibility in arranging information collected on the page, according to Adusumilli.
For example, when clipping from multiple sites in version 2, users could only
lay clips down vertically. Thus, even if users had a small clip and a medium
clip, they would only lay down one on top of the other, thereby failing to take
advantage of all the space on the page. With the third version, clippings can
be placed side by side. In addition, when users clip, they sometimes get more
than they actually want to clip. With version 3, users can crop whatever they
do not need. Cropping can be undone as well if a mistake is made. Version 3 also
includes a save functionality when print preview is closed. Hence, the next
time users open the clips, they are in the same format they were in when last
saved. Some minor user interface changes have also been integrated; for
example, users can right click and print/delete clips directly from the clip
Upcoming versions will provide a way to organize
content by subject, Adusumilli said. For example, users will be able to have a
travel clip book, then another folder, and so on.
HP's Smart Web Printing Software technology is
currently available for Internet Explorer 6 and 7 browsers, and HP is working
on a Firefox version for Windows set for availability in late February. While
compatibility with Mac browsers is on HP's radar, no definitive date is set for
it. According to Adusumilli, Internet Explorer controls 80 to 85 percent of the
browser market share, while Firefox from Mozilla has been gaining market share
slowly, and currently owns the second most share.
A Two-Prong Approach
HP sees a two-prong approach to the software. The
first aspect comprises users having the software tool on their systems and
selecting what to print. The second aspect comprises Service IPs, providing
embedded solutions to Web developers to make Web sites more "print
As reported in the October 2007 issue of Digital
Imaging Review, HP acquired Tabblo, a privately held developer of Web-based
software, in March. By acquiring this technology, HP will be able to embed its
Smart Web Printing Software technology in some of the Web sites owned by the
companies it has established partnerships with. According to Adusumilli, Tabblo
technologies are available to anyone for free. In addition, there is no license
or contract to sign. More details on the technology are available at developer.tabblo.com/.
Adusumilli said that HP is also working with Microsoft
and other browser companies to find out if it can build the software flexibility
into their browsers.
"We want everyone to use this technology," Adusumilli
HP is not concerned about any competitors coming up
with a similar technology. According to Adusumilli, HP's competitors have been
focusing on taking clips and putting them online, whereas HP wants to make the
clips easier to print.
"We are a printing company. Even if another
company comes out with a similar technology to make it easier to print pages from
the Web, we all still benefit," he said.