Re: What's with colo[u]r anyway? [wrap-up]

Subject: Re: What's with colo[u]r anyway? [wrap-up]
From: "Dick Margulis " <margulis -at- mail -dot- fiam -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 5 Feb 2003 11:06:48 -0500


Moore's Law does not apply to consumables and probably never will.

You can squeeze the labor cost of a unit of computing power or information storage. You can squeeze the material cost as you miniaturize.

But a sheet of paper is still going to be as big as a sheet of paper and weigh as much; and it is produced by an industry that is already quite efficient. In fact, most of the premium you pay for laser printer paper is for the packaging and distribution. Those costs aren't particularly elastic, either, as long as you are buying less than a pallet of paper.

Toner, the other principal consumable, is something you are going to continue to use in roughly the same quantity per sheet until a completely new technology replaces laser printers. So, again, the volume of raw materials cannot drop, and the energy cost of processing those raw materials into something you can print with is not likely to drop dramatically, either.

Might someone invent a radically cheaper way to get high-quality images onto short run print jobs? Who's to say? But I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for
the bottom to fall out of paper or toner prices.


Kevin McLauchlan <kmclauchlan -at- chrysalis-its -dot- com> wrote:

>I noted that offset is a mature technology, so its
>prices remain stable over time. Laser printing is
>almost as recent as personal computers
>(photocopiers came along not much earlier), so
>I would have expected a precipitous decline in
>costs, along with a commensurate increase in
>quality and speed. I've seen the speed and
>quality increases, but the price drop has been
>less than expected and slower to come.
>I suppose the issue is that it depends greatly
>on consumables, and that the amortized cost of
>the equipment is relatively small in comparison to
>the ongoing paper and toner costs... which don't
>seem to have dropped, despite the booming
>markets for them. You normally expect a bit of
>price jump when everybody suddenly discovers
>a new thing, and then a predictable price erosion
>as competing suppliers jump in with volume- and
>process-related efficiency gains.


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