Smarty Pants


How are you reading this blog?  On your PC or laptop?  Or on your smartphone or tablet?  If you’re not reading it on a phone or tablet, the chances are you regularly view web and social media sites that way.  And you’re not alone, but more of that later.

For those of us old enough to remember early mobile phones it’s incredible to think how far they have come in a relatively short period of time.  I worked for mobile operator Orange between 2000 and 2008 and can remember being sat in meetings wondering if this new photo messaging thing was ever going to take off, and how we could encourage customers to use more ‘mobile data’.

The first camera phone (the Sony Ericsson T68i if my memory serves me) was launched around 2001 and didn’t even come with a built-in camera.  You had to buy the camera as an accessory that plugged in to the bottom of the phone.  The image quality was appalling, and you were doing well if you could actually tell what the small, dark and slightly blurry picture was. The T68i was also one of the first phones to come with a colour screen…

When it came to ‘mobile data’, I spent much of my time at Orange scratching my head and wondering if anyone would ever use it in a serious way.  WAP was heralded as the internet on your phone, but in reality it was slow, limited and expensive with poor content that nobody was interested in.  We had countless conversations about how mobile data usage would take off when the ‘killer application’, that product or service that everyone wanted, was invented but there wasn’t much sign of anything revolutionary on the horizon.  Even the faster 3G networks make much difference initially.

Then, in 2007, everything changed.  Apple launched the iPhone and the role of the mobile phone changed forever.  The ‘killer application’ had finally arrived. Over the past five years mobile internet usage and mobile commerce has exploded.  According to the 2011 Global Consumer Survey from MEF, 91% of UK consumers have used their mobile device for commerce 82% of respondents access the mobile web on a daily basis.  PC and laptop usage is diminishing, and this year smartphone and tablet sales outstripped laptop sales for the first time.

Wireless and cloud based printing provides the solution.  With innovations like Ricoh’s HotSpot you can print from your smartphone or tablet to any HotSpot compatible multifunction printer.  This could be in your office, a hotel, coffee shop, airport or anywhere with a HotSpot printer.  When you need to print a document a unique code is sent to your mobile device which you punch into the keypad on the printer, et voila, out pops your printed document.

Not only is this of great benefit to your workforce, the additional revenue opportunities for businesses are clear.  By levying a small charge for printing from your HotSpot multifunction printer, almost any business with reasonable volumes of footfall from the general public can generate a regular source of income that hasn’t existed until now.

As with all technological innovations, it is when market penetration reaches a reasonable level that things really start to take off.  I sent two photo messages on my phone yesterday without even thinking about it, and I’m pretty sure the recipients were able to see the pictures very clearly on their smartphones…

For more information about HotSpot and to find out how print management can help your business become more productive and efficient whilst reducing your printing costs and your environmental impact visit

False Economy

Old bangers

Buy cheap, buy twice. As cautionary advice goes, it might be a bit of a cliché but the sentiment is something that anyone can relate to. At some time or another we have all chosen the cheap option only to find that the product or service in question simply didn’t live up to expectations, meaning further expense is required and making us victims of our own false economy.

The concept of false economy is particularly pertinent during the current and prolonged economic downturn and the motor industry provides an interesting study on the subject.

Over the past decade the number of cars on the road in the UK has grown by 9% to 31.3 million, but that rise is considerably less than the 17% rise in the previous decade. Cars are getting older too. 5.3 million are over 12 years old and the average car is now 7.44 years old (two months older than a year ago).

This is all strong evidence that cash strapped motorists are holding onto cars longer, the recession causing them to think long and hard before upgrading their car.

But how sensible is it to hold onto a car for longer? A new car is, on average, 20% more efficient than a seven year old car and average petrol prices have increased from 77.9p/litre to 138.9p/litre over the past decade. Factor in the increased chance of mechanical issues with an older car and quite quickly the argument for upgrading to a newer model becomes a compelling one.

There are parallels with the office supplies industry, with businesses holding onto equipment for longer to avoid expenditure. Are they too falling into the false economy trap? It very much depends on the specific equipment in question and usage etc, but the chances are that a new photocopier or multi-function printer will be much more efficient than your existing kit. Energy consumption, consumables usage etc improves with each new range of models so there is a very good chance that the trusty machine in the corner is actually a bit of an old banger, comparatively speaking.

A simple print audit can help determine how efficient your current equipment is, and whether or not you can save money by upgrading to new machines. Neon Digital is a print management specialist, dedicated to helping other businesses become more productive and efficient whilst reducing their printing costs and environmental impact. We can evaluate your current usage and equipment and provide a detailed assessment of savings that your business can make.

For more information visit

Throw money away