Mobile Devices: Printer Industry Friend or Foe?

Posted on March 05, 2014

When the smartphone first appeared on the market, circa 1997, printer manufacturers worried that mobile devices would eventually make all forms of printing obsolete. It seemed as if the long-awaited paperless office might become a reality as people explored new ways to share digital information.

Fast forward 17 years, to October 2013. That's when the Photizo Group published a research report called The Future of Printing as Personal Computing Evolves, which attempts to clarify whether mobile devices are actually friend or foe to the printer industry.

The report notes that mobile printing is actually the primary growth market in the printer industry. Although it warns that that mobile print volumes will be unlikely to be able to replace diminishing desktop print volumes completely, mobile printing volumes continue to grow.

New Ways to Manage & Share Documents

One section of the Photizo report asked why users of smartphones and tablets don't print more often. The answers varied, but approximately 60% of the respondents indicated that they don't know how to print from their mobile device, their device doesn't work with the printer(s) available to them, or it's simply too difficult.

The report concluded that the sooner the industry and mobile device vendors can simplify and universalize print functionality on smartphones and tablets, the faster mobile printing will grow, and the more slowly will users find non-print alternatives for viewing and sharing documents.

"Over the long run, the shift to mobile devices will force users to develop new ways to manage and share documents," the report says.

What Mobile Device Users Want

When it comes to mobile printing, mobile users want their smartphones and tablets to work the way they are used to working with laptops or desktops. "People are often surprised when they get a new tablet or smartphone. It seems to work like a computer right up until it's time to connect to a printer. So it?s not really a surprise that mobile printing is one of the most-wanted features," says TechNavio's market research report, Global Document Outsourcing Market 2012-2016, published during the fourth quarter of 2013.

The report notes that the sale of smartphones exploded in 2009 and passed PC and laptop sales in 2011, adding "the feature that is requested the most in smartphones such as iPhones and iPads is the print feature. In addition to smartphones, e-readers such as Kindle, and netbooks or tablets with incorporated print features have led to an upsurge in mobile printing."

For businesses, delivering what users want without security risks, exorbitant costs, or environmentally irresponsible behavior means finding a secure mobile printing solution that works with other products already selected by IT. For example, most companies have network security, mobile device management (MDM) and printer network management tools already in place ? not to mention a wide range of printers that may or may not offer printer drivers and support for every kind of mobile device an end user might bring to work as a personally owned device.

"?When they reach the point that they're figuring out how to deliver what users want ? easy to use printing services from any device, with any printer ? the IT department often calls Breezy," says Prat Agarwal, Director of Business Development at Breezy.

"Breezy is a printer-agnostic application that provides on-device encryption for any mobile device, and it's already integrated with the leading MDM and security tools companies have already invested in. So we're able to provide secure mobile printing without creating additional problems for IT.," Agarwal adds.

For more information on secure mobile printing, watch this video from Breezy, or download The Definitive Guide to Mobile Printing, a free ebook from Breezy.

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