Did HP jump the gun when it announced that it would be releasing a 3D printer in June 2014? It would seem so. CEO Meg Whitman 'inadvertently' stated that there would be a big announcement about HP's entry to the 3D printer market in June. This announcement has now been pushed back to the end of HP's fiscal year, which finishes on October 31st.
'During our Annual Meeting of Stockholders on March 19, HP answered a shareholder question about our 3D printing program and inadvertently stated that we would be making a technology announcement in June, when in fact we are planning to make that announcement by the end of our fiscal year.'
HP’s CTO Martin Frink confirmed that HP would be entering the 3D printing market, which he sees as a 'huge opportunity', in the near future. The 3D printing market has grown by 27% in the last three years and is expected to grow from $2.2 billion in 2012 to $10.8 billion in 2021.
Frink also confirmed that HP has a prototype printer in its lab but denied that HP was late to the party. He pointed out that consumers wanted good quality, fast printers that just aren’t available at the moment. HP's brief is to deliver accuracy, quality and speed, although not directly to the end user.
Instead, HP will focus on 3D printing for enterprises. Frink summarised his vision of where HP will sit in the 3D printer market:
'Instead of having a machine at home, we think consumers will first use print service providers — companies similar to FedEx Office — where people will send their 3D print jobs for high-quality fulfillment, and we’d be the ones to provide the equipment.'
It's no great surprise that HP's 3D printer will be announced later than expected and focusing on print service providers, rather than consumers is a logical decision. The technology is not yet mature enough to make this a viable marketplace for HP. However, if the market and technology develop as HP expects, it will be in a strong position to take advantage when the time is right.
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by Anthony Morgan