13 February 2008

From the Economics Desk

Free razors, mandatory blades:
(P)rinter ink, especially for photos, is probably the most expensive substance per volume you’ll ever buy—more expensive than gold, oil, perfume, even blood in most cases . . . you’re shelling out the equivalent of between $3,000 and $5,000 per gallon.

Canon sued (and won) to keep refilled cartridges from being sold in Japan without Canon ink; HP sued and won for patent infringement against a company that made replacement cartridges. Epson, however, settled a lawsuit claiming their cartridges intentionally signaled they needed replacement when they still had ink left. And more recently one man filed a class-action suit claiming that HP illegally colluded with Staples by giving them a $100 million “bribe” not to carry low-cost replacement ink.

(I)t’s now far cheaper to order prints through Flickr, Shutterfly or iPhoto, or if you need them in a hurry, from your local Wal-Mart, Walgreens or even mom-and-pop photo store.

The product lifecycle is a speedy one and it can be hard to catch up for anyone with a life.

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