First of all, I should make it clear that I hate just about all printers on the planet. Most are poorly manufactured, the drivers are buggy, and they end up being money pits (as they were intentionally designed, no doubt). But here’s a way that owning one of these pieces of clunky and largely obsolete technology could be slightly less horrible:
When you set up your printer, you should be prompted to optionally enter your Amazon credentials. If I choose to provide them, when I start to get low on ink, I should be able to order the correct cartridges with the press of a button, and have them arrive at my door within two days. The advantages of such a partnership are probably pretty obvious, but I’ll spell them out anyway:
- Printer manufacturers: you will sell more ink at a faster rate. When I currently start to run out of ink, I put off the purchase of new cartridges for as long as possible. Not only is it inconvenient to have to go out to the store, but looking through a book or searching online for the right package of ink is just not how humanity should be spending its time in the year 2011.
- Amazon: you can probably put the final nail in the coffin of Office Depot and Staples. Could these companies still exist if they lost 80% of their printer cartridge sales? What else do people buy there?
- Customers: Owning and operating a printer would suck just a little less. Although ink is still way overpriced, and printers are almost as big of a racket as cable TV and mobile phone plans, at least getting ripped off would be considerably more convenient.
Of course, Amazon isn’t the only option here. Staples and Office Depot could try to negotiate such agreements, as well, or the printer manufacturers could try to sell directly to consumers and cut retailers out entirely. However, because of Amazon’s brand recognition, generally good reputation with consumers, and extremely robust retail infrastructure, I think they are best positioned to pull something like this off.
PS: If you love printers as much as I do, you might enjoy The Oatmeal’s Why I Believe Printers Were Sent From Hell.
Our Canon MX 860 kinda sorta has this support built in.
When we print, and are running low on ink, it pops up a dialog box which contains links to resellers. Within a few clicks, we can buy the ink from Amazon.
It’s not as smooth as what you’re describing above, but it’s fairly idiot proof. And it’s far, far better than the usual pain of trying to find the right cartridge through some adhoc method.
(Oh, and as long as we are complaining about printers…why the heck isn’t MX860 plastered in big letters on the printer somewhere? I actually had to go to my computer and check my printer settings to find out what the model of the device is. Even though the actual device is a few steps away from me. Ugh.)
It’s a very interesting idea, which could really help people stay stocked up on ink and such. There would be quite a few security issues that need to be looked at first, what with all the private data floating about. Also, you’d just be limited to one seller. Who wouldn’t want to shop around to get the best deal?