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In brief: Epson recently announced a significant shift in its printing strategy, doubling down on inkjet technology while vowing to pull out of the laser printer market. The Japanese electronics company in announcing its new WorkForce Enterprise AM-Series of business-focused products said it would end global sales and distribution of laser printers by 2026.
Epson contends that inkjet technology can reduce energy consumption compared to laser printers due to the latter's need for heat during the printing process. Epson also said its new inkjet printers help limit resources used during production and shipping, and that high yield ink cartridges reduce material usage, shipping and storage requirements.
Furthermore, Epson said inkjets utilize fewer moving and consumable parts over their lifetime compared to lasers. This, the company claims, substantially reduces service and maintenance needs, resulting in less printer downtime, improved productivity and heightened end-user satisfaction.
From clogged nozzles and planned obsolescence to the high cost of refills, inkjet printers have been a hot potato among consumers for years. I recall a friend in high school that swore by buying a new printer when his ink cartridge would run out because it was cheaper than simply purchasing a replacement cartridge.
In 2016, HP came under fire for pushing out an update that would disable third-party ink cartridges. Consumer backlash was swift, and HP ultimately apologized for not being more transparent and backtracked. As Ars Technica highlights, the company is still paying for the misstep – most recently to the tune of $1.35 million to compensate impacted users in Europe.
It's unclear how consumers and businesses will react to Epson's decision to focus solely on inkjets moving forward. One also has to wonder if the pandemic didn't have something to do with the company's shift in strategy.
As an August 2021 report from IDC highlights, pages printed using laser declined 16 percent year over year in 2020 due to the impact of lockdowns and the shift to working remotely. In contrast, pages printed using inkjet printers increased four percent during the same period.