Buying a simple inkjet printer is easy, and cheap, and you can do it just about anywhere. But almost as soon as you open it things start to go downhill. Quality decreases rapidly, most printers run into hardware or software glitches, and you run out of ink quickly—ink that is extremely expensive to replace.
In fact, have you ever questioned why ink is so expensive to replace? After all, it’s just 10 to 20 milliliters of colored fluid. You should be able to get such a small amount of that type of liquid for a song—like motor oil or even gasoline which also have complex formulations.
HP justifies the markup by claiming that they spend over a billion dollars a year on research and development to make ink that is extremely high tech and that works with virtually no hiccups, in contrast to cheaper third parity inks which may fall anywhere along the quality curve.
“These liquids are completely different from a technology standpoint,” said Thom Brown, marketing manager at HP, in a Computerworld story.
So why not just write the volume of ink on each individual cartridge to help consumers decide what cartridge is the best value, what they get the most of for their money? According to Brown this would only confuse the customer as “Each system has a different way it uses ink or the drop size is different. If you looked strictly at volume you wouldn’t see those differences and it would be confusing to the customers.”
The simple fact is that ink is expensive in part because printers are cheap, and because once you have a printer you are locked in to purchasing that particular cartridge. Fortunately third party internet sites and other sources are offering some measure of competition to suppress prices and benefit the consumer.