Paper - the Rodney Dangerfield of media

By Warren Volkmann, Editor
HP Developers' Portal

Jacob Cohen got no respect as a comedian, so after years of struggling, he quit and went to work as a salesman. When he tired of that, he returned to showbiz with a new schtick and a new name “Rodney Dangerfield.” He turned that lack of respect into one of his best comedy schticks.

When I was a kid I got no respect. The time I was kidnapped, and the kidnappers sent my parents a ransom note. They said, "We want five thousand dollars or you'll see your kid again."

With my wife I don't get no respect. I made a toast on her birthday to 'the best woman a man ever had.' The waiter joined me.

With my doctor I don’t get no respect. I told him, ‘I’ve swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills.’ He told me to have a few drinks and get some rest.”

(Get more of his best jokes at jokes4us.com.)

It’s a lot like that for paper. It is derided as Old Media – way old – like 2,000 years old.

Since the invention of the computer, futurists and prognosticators have been forecasting the demise of paper. Every advance in screen technology enables new paperless options, triggering yet another round of predictions: “Paper will go away. Paper will go away.”

Printers just aren't sexy tech, like smart watches, drones and the next iAnything. Nobody lines up for days in advance to buy the newest printer. The Consumer Electronics Show doesn’t pack ‘em in to see the newest features in all-in-one inkjets. Nobody raves. Nobody touts. Nobody cares. Nevertheless, printers sell like cheeseburgers.

100 million sold - every year

In 2014, more than 100 million inkjet and laser printers worth nearly $50 billion were sold worldwide. That gives you an installed printer base of about half a billion (with a “b”). In a world where screens flicker everywhere, people still find practical uses for the printed page. Paper is the durable, portable, foldable, sharable media that doesn't require batteries.

You gotta respect that.

New possibilities with digital printing

Printing on paper may not be sexy, but it is still downright practical for a lot of situations. Mobile printing offers interesting new possibilities as mobile apps and stationary printers work together in new ways. With digital printing, every individual can receive a customized customized publication (think Google Ads on paper).

As a developer, what can you do with half a billion installed printers?