A few years ago, I was chatting with a good friend of mine about an interactive project he was working on for a client. The project was a flash based web site that allowed you to develop custom greeting cards and print them out at home. Not e-cards. But actual physical birthday and holiday cards that you print out, fold up, and drop in the mail or attach to a present.
The client? HP.
The primary goal of the project? Not to create fun greeting cards for people, but to encourage the use of ink. The creative process around that project actually explored the use of colors that required more ink. When you have to use more ink, then you have to buy more ink. And thats how HP makes money on printers.
Inkjet cartridges are to razor blades as inkjet printers are to the Gilette sensor razor. Inkjet printers are a loss leader. They are a device to force you to go out and buy inkjet cartridges – the product that holds the real profit margins for HP.
Tabbloid is a service that allows you to take a number of RSS feeds that you read regularly and format the RSS content in a newspaper of magazine styled layout that is delivered to you pdf email attachment every morning. The idea being that you print it out on your inkjet and read it in your breakfast nook while you sip coffee and munch on a bagel.
When I first saw Tabbloid, I thought it was a pretty unique service. I still don’t think it’s half bad. Not for me probably. But something that I could see catching on with my parents. And make no mistake, from HP’s perspective this is good business. A sound strategy. Provide something useful for people that help your bottom line. That’s what business should be about.
I do recommend that you give Tabbloid a try. I’m not exactly sure why it’s important for me to inform you that Tabbloid wants to force you to buy more ink, but it is.
Alternatively, try Feedly. Which is a similar service but with a screen based content delivery mechanism instead of encouraging print outs.