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HP to sell low-cost ink

Change of attitude

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Michael Hoffmann, the head of the European operations of HP's printer division, has told German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung that his company is going to sell low-cost ink alongside better quality cartridges.

Customers will be able to buy more than one type of cartridge: from low-cost ink for bulk-printing purposes, to high quality ink for printing photographs. The low-cost ink will cost as little as € 10, Hoffman told the German newspaper. He also promised that the price of printers will not rise as a result.

Kodak and Fujifilm recently announced similar plans.

The high cost of cartridges for home inkjet printers has infuriated customers for many years. The cost of ink-cartridge replacements often exceed the price of the printer. It also led to a sprawling industry of refill stations.

In the past, companies such as Hewlett-Packard tried to crack down on the cartridge refill industry. In 2005 HP asked a refill company in the US to stop using inks with the same chemical composition that's found in its patented brand of Vivera inks.

Printer ink is a $32bn market worldwide, but printer manufacturers keep losing market share to the refill industry. US chain Walgreens recently rolled out an inkjet refill service at many of its photo labs. About 1,500 of the chain's more than 5,000 stores now offer the service.

Cartridge World, the world's fastest growing ink cartridge refill franchise concept with $400m in annual revenues and 800 employees, has recently announced its expansion plans for Israel. ®

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