Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Printing, And How It's Like Cars

Printers are like the car industry. Stay with me. I'll explain.

Back in the day, printers were tough as old boots. They supported either Postscript or PCL. That was fine, there were 2 standards and most printers supported either.

Then, along came Microsoft with WDM and the ability to use drivers to offload the printers processing into software. Suddenly people like Epson could build cheap mass-produced shit like the Stylus C20 USB printers etc. that didn't have a hope of supporting a standard like PCL or PS. 1-0 to Microsoft, as with their WDM drivers for modems, they played their market advantage to ensure that only people running Windows could use software printers (winprinters).

HP were caught a little on the hop. They suddenly had to play catchup and started doing this winprinter rubbish too. They did, but at the expense of their quality and their reputation in the marketplace. Eventually HP came back around to supporting PCL and Postscript in almost all of their printers and now they're back on top.

Compare to the car industry in the UK - Ford and Vauxhall have always been the mainstream cheap brands, they got good at shaving costs without compromising too much in reliability. Suddenly people like VAG, BMW etc. had to lower prices to compete but they weren't used to doing things on the cheap so the stuff they produced was often poor quality in the late 90's / early 2000's and the Ford and Vauxhall stuff was actually more reliable. It's only today that the higher marques have been able to compete on price and also quality with the cheaper stuff.

'til next time.