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Repetitive HP grabs another Flickr clone

Tabblo's photo cubes love pricey ink

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HP has revealed plans to acquire Tabblo, proving it has an almost limitless cash stockpile to spend on start-ups that let customers fiddle with their photos online.

Tabblo makes it easier for people to arrange their photos in a semi-professional manner. You can create photo albums with text, craft snazzy postcards and even make 3-D photo cubes. The start-up, birthed in 2005, has apparently committed itself to helping people tell stories through photography.

HP has swallowed the story-telling pitch for an undisclosed sum and plans to complete the buy of Tabblo in the next few weeks after meeting standard closing conditions.

“HP’s goal is to make printing content from the web the easiest and best experience possible for people – whether they are printing a simple map or a book of their favorite blogs,” said Vyomesh Joshi, EVP at HP. “By acquiring Tabblo’s technology and making it available to companies that host popular websites, HP will be firmly on the path to becoming the print engine of the web.”

There's an element on familiarity that surrounds the Tabblo purchase. HP acquired Flickr replicas Snapfish and Pixaco in 2005. Then, it nabbed photo kiosk specialist Silverwire in 2006.

Snapfish, Pixaco and Tabblo seem to have very similar technology, but it's hard to fault HP for making duplicate purchases in the print and imaging game. The company depends on its printing business for profits and will do anything possible to keep consumers churning through ink.

And it's hard to imagine a bigger ink drain than a photo cube. ®

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