The use of inkjet for printing at retail is not innovative. Noritsu has had its dDP series on the market for about three years, using an Epson print engine. I feel the product was created to compete with the Phogenix inkjet that never was, but it has developed a niche market for itself, primarily in office and government applications. A new lower-price, lower capacity model is soon to be introduced by Noritsu.
That HP wants to get into the retail printing sector is no mystery. There is a definite trend away from home printing, where HP has been a dominant player, to retail printing of digital images. According to Ed Lee, director of photo printing trends for InfoTrends, home printing in 2004 represented 66% of digital print output with 19% being done at retail. He forecasts that in 2008, home will still lead retail by 48% to 41%, and that in 2009 or 2010 there will be a crossover. (Online and 'at work' printing makes up the difference.)
Even though home printing volume is still growing, retail volume is growing faster and HP wants to be part of that action, as well.
Whatever HP is up to, it is keeping a lot of folks—especially the competition—guessing. Unless, of course, they've signed an NDA. ptn