Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) has introduced another technology that demonstrates why the company often out-flanks rivals. The new product, which is free, allows mobile PC users to print documents on almost any printer. According to The New York Times, the system is called "Cloudprint".
The feature uses server-based software run on hardware owned and operated by HP. The Times writes that :"The service requires users to first "print" their documents to H.P. servers connected to the Internet. The system then assigns them a document code, and transmits that code to a cellphone, making it possible to retrieve and print the documents from any location." HP hopes the service will drive printer and ink sales.
HP's printing and imaging group is critical to the company's success. According to the HP 10-Q, the division represents 27% of the company's annual revenue and will do almost $30 billion this year. The operation competes with Lexmark (NYSE: LXK), Canon (NYSE: CAJ), and Kodak (NYSE: EK) for market share in the huge global printer market.
The HP initiative is an example of how the company's innovation prowess is keeping it ahead of its competition, but it is also a sign that server-based applications are growing in importance. Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) is offering several server-based products including its document and spreadsheet products. The move is seen as a challenge to Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) which creates software the works primarily on individual PCs.
HPQ shares are up 80% over the last two years. but the company is not waiting for the competition to catch its breath.
Douglas A. McIntyre is a partner at 24/7 Wall St.