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Ink jet indignities and battery pack blues

1 min read

Ink jet cartridges are something on which most people have an opinion – mainly the cost. It's one reason why a large industry has emerged focused on refilling used cartridges.

Printer manufacturers can get quite excited about this; with ink jet printers now available for as little as £35, selling relatively expensive cartridges will boost the revenue stream. Ink jet cartridges are only one element of the consumables market – another significant part is batteries. Apparently, 25% of all consumables sales – a market valued at $60billion a year – are refills or clones. Technology is now available which has the potential to prescribe which consumables can be used with which product. Take the ink jet as an example; a chip located in manufacturer A's printer will talk to the cartridge being installed to ensure it has been purchased from manufacturer A. If it hasn't, the printer won't work. Similarly with battery packs. Arguments can be made from either side of the fence about the validity of such a move. Consumers will argue about their right to buy what they want at the cost they want to pay, the cartridge refilling industry will complain about restrain of trade and original equipment manufacturers will argue about the need to protect their revenues, as well as their brand. This latter point is valid; it's the manufacturer who generally takes the flak when the consumable doesn't work – even if it hasn't supplied that consumable. Manufacturers can also argue that by specifying the use of a particular battery pack – say with a mobile phone – users will get the best performance and be assured they aren't being 'ripped off'. While you can understand the concept being applied to, for example, software, tying consumables to products has the potential for manufacturers to set the price at whatever level they want.