Memjet hasn’t announced a partner for the U.S., but Lauer said the printer would be sold here this year as well.
In a demonstration last week at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, a prototype of the Memjet printer churned out color pages, one per second, of a quality indistinguishable from a good inkjet printer.
“It’s a disruptor in that it’s very fast for a very low price,” said Keith Kmetz, a printing industry analyst for IDC. The Memjet technology “has had the market abuzz,” he said, but he added that there’s more to market success than technology. Memjet still has to prove that its partners can market the printers effectively.
Memjet has talked about its color printing technology for years while it straightened out some kinks, so it won’t catch well-established players such as Hewlett-Packard Co., Lexmark International Inc., and Canon Inc. by surprise.
“I haven’t noticed in my conversations with them that they’re gravely concerned,” Kmetz said.
Memjet isn’t targeting individual consumers with its printers, at least for now.
The home printer market is even tougher than the office market, because manufacturers such as HP subsidize their products heavily, then make the money back from sales of ink cartridges. Fast color printing also isn’t as important to consumers, who are printing less and toting more information and pictures around on their smart phones.
Memjet is targeting commercial printing applications, such as photo finishing, with a unit that prints page-wide glossy photos. The goal is to replace drugstore minilab prints, which are still mostly created using light-sensitive paper and noxious chemicals. Memjet’s unit is smaller, cheaper, and faster.