HP to swap `new printers for old'

KOCHI, AUG. 30. The U.S.-based printer giant, Hewlett Packard, today assumed the unlikely avatar of Alladin's genie: it offered to buy back any of its laser printers from Indian customers at prices much above cost price - if customers traded them in for the company's new generation Internet-enabled range.

Called ``Trade in, trade up", the drive is aimed at encouraging customers to upgrade to the new line-up of laser printers - both monochrome as well as colour - which have a number of ``Internet friendly" features such as the ability to be controlled remotely through e-mailed instructions and to detect the quantity of toner remaining, automatically reordering a cartridge if required.

In a telephonic talk from Delhi, Mr. Nitin Hiranandanani, HP's Country Manager for Printing and Imaging Systems, told The Hindu that the models that could be bought under the trade up scheme included the 2200, 4100, 4500, 5000, 8000 and 9000 series of printers which encompassed the middle and high-end of monochrome and colour laser printers. However any HP laser model can be traded in, including the popular budget Laserjet 6L (Gold) and 1100 models.

Interestingly. the trade-in value allowed under the scheme could be more than the purchase price of the old machines: Laserjet 6L which has a street price of around Rs. 16,000, could be traded for Rs. 9,000 for the 2200 model, but will fetch as much as Rs. 22,500 against pricier models in the series 4000 colour laser range which costs between Rs. 1.50 and Rs. 3 lakhs. At this price range one can also get one of the heavy duty high speed 50 pages a minute monochrome lasers in the 9000 series. The maximum trade- in value under the scheme is just over Rs. 1 lakh.

Many of the new models come with doubled RAM memory and features such as embedded web server (EWS) and embedded virtual machine (EVM) - jargon for wireless and Net-enabled print features.

HP has been progressively introducing these models in the Indian market in tandem with its global launch since April this year and simultaneously withdrawing the earlier pre-Internet models. The largest selling entry level 6L model is not being offered any more.

A matrix provided at the hpindia.com web site, starting today, enables customers to determine the different trade-in prices of their existing model vis-a-vis the full new range on offer.

With new entrants such as Epson and Samsung introducing laser printers in India, the market leader apparently believes that the best way to hang on its 85 per cent share is to emulate the Godfather and make `an offer you can't refuse'.