Curated for content, computing, and digital experience professionals

Author: Thad McIlroy (Page 1 of 3)

HP Unveils Print 2.0 – a New Era for Printing

The title of this blog entry is the title of HP’s press release on the same topic. On May 30th in New York Hewlett-Packard announced “Print 2.0” at the company’s annual Imaging and Printing Conference.
According to the press material: “Vyomesh Joshi, executive vice president of the company’s Imaging and Printing Group, described how HP will seek to capture a significant share of the 53 trillion digital pages estimated to be printed in 2010 alone – an opportunity valued at more than $296 billion.
“Joshi identified three key areas of focus of the Print 2.0 strategy:
● Make it easier to print from websites, such as blogs and travel sites, and bring new printing capabilities to online properties;
● Extend the company’s digital content creation and publishing platforms – for example, Snapfish and Logoworks – across customer segments spanning from consumers to enterprises; and
● Deliver a digital printing platform that increases print speeds and lowers the cost of printing for high-volume commercial markets.”
There might be something a little different in HP’s strategy here. I’m still not sure. There was a ton of video recorded at the event, and it’s easily accessible on HP’s site. I didn’t start with the videos of the executive presentations, but instead with the presentation by John Battelle. Battelle has had a unique (and eventful) relationship to both print and electronic media, making him a uniquely fascinating speaker on where publishing is headed. The third video, of his Q&A session, is particularly revealing of his unique perspective on the evolving relationship of print to electronic media.
After watching Battelle, I’m willing to spend more time here, even listening to the executive presentations. HP may be onto something.

Thomson Learning Sold for Big Bucks!

Well, Thomson Learning has finally been sold (subject to rote “due diligence”) to private equity firms. Everyone figured it would be private equity firms that would make the purchase, partly because these firms are buying just about everything these days except your old underwear, and also because the higher education textbook market is so concentrated that even George Bush’s “I’ve never seen a merger I didn’t like” administration would have had trouble fobbing this one off. Too many children would have been left behind.

The big surprise was the price. A whopping $7.75 billion, over 3 times the annual sales of the division, and apparently roughly 15 times cash flow (see . The same article points out that “by comparison, the average cash flow multiple paid in leveraged buyouts of $500 million or more last year was around eight times cash flow, with media deals typically in the low-double digits, according to buyout industry statistics.” The price is also some 50% more than company officials originally stated they thought they could fob the division off for.

Would we say there’s a little too much cash out there looking for comfy homes? Or would we wonder why this Thomson division, much maligned by management when the sale was first announced, is suddenly as valuable as DaimlerChrysler? (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/15/automobiles/15chrysler-web.html)

I guess we’re stuck with Thomson’s overriding stated view that higher education just wasn’t getting with the program fast enough in an online, electronic sort of way, and so the division had to be jettisoned. (Although Thomson CEO Richard J. Harrington admitted after the sale announcement that the company had no complaints about the educational unit’s financial performance. Textbooks are, by and large, a high-margin product ).

On the other hand, memory serves to remind us that Thomson was previously determined in a fierce way to get the heck out of the news business, and now it’s about to merge with Reuters.

What I’m most cognizant of is that Thomson shares had been languishing in the mid-$30s for years before the announcement of the bold move to get rid of textbooks. Now those shares are in the $40s. A lot of senior Thomson executives have made a whole lot of cash from these recent maneuvers (not to mention the Thomson family). No senior Thomson executive was left behind (as for the the operating staff; it is not polite to ask).
(To glimpse the stock chart:

The Negroponte Laptop

There has been much speculation and lots of quick judgments on the Negroponte laptop project. I’ve found all of the articles and blogs I’ve seen to be so devoid of factual matter, while so packed with unsubstantiated opinion, that I’ve found it impossible to form any kind of judgment of my own on the topic.
Obviously addressing the huge problem of literacy in the third-world is essential to a bright future for publishing. Will this be part of the solution?
Read a truly excellent article here:
http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/apr07/4985
It’s that rara avis — an article full of both technical, social and political insight, and extremely balanced in presenting its ideas and information. Fascinating and provocative.

Gilbane San Francisco

Well, I’d have to say it was a very good conference. Attendance was up, San Francisco was sunny and warm, and I thought the sessions were very good.

I had the advantage/disadvantage of being one of the track chairs of the publishing track, which meant that I had to attend all six publishing sessions. I managed to catch the keynotes as well, which were jam-packed. But I’ll leave it to others to discuss the other tracks and sessions.

We tried to expand the publishing track this spring from a focus solely on automated publishing (we brought that topic down to one session). The subject is important, and very relevant to the rest of the Gilbane conference content, but we had the clear intention of making the publishing track much broader in scope than it had been before.

Steve Paxhia very kindly allowed me to lead off with what was really a dual session. I introduced my new web site: www.thefutureofpublishing.com, but also spoke more broadly on the subject. I’ve got a ton of material that I’m slowly loading onto the Web site, and nine years of research behind it.

We then moved to “Publishing Automation: What Can You Do Today?” and had three great speakers tackle the topic. OK, they were all book publishers, but each had a markedly different approach, and I decided, in the end, that listening to three approaches to a similar problem might be more interesting than three approaches to completely different challenges.

The topic “How Will Internet Communities and Collaboration Technologies Change Publishing Best Practices?” was a tough one, and Steve and his speakers handled it very well. This subject is so slippery. Do you need to create a community on your Web site? What is the ideal extent of collaboration? I was left with the clear sense that community and collaboration are essential to nearly all publishing Web sites.
We then featured two sessions on cross-media publishing strategies. Bill Rosenblatt is the expert. It struck me that there are still a lot of unanswered questions around cross-media publishing, but absolutely no question about the necessity and reality of this phenomenon — not only is it essential, but the tools are there today.

Bill Trippe wasn’t available to moderate “Publishing for International Audiences: Top Challenges and Best Practices” but he had selected two great speakers: Stéphane Dayras, technical services manager for Quark in Europe, and Ben Martin, senior analyst at Flatirons Solutions in Colorado. They were the perfect pairing. Stéphane introduced the topic broadly, and offered a true international perspective. Ben is “the scientist,” and showed extensive details of planning for this tough challenge. Most of the audience stayed behind for an extra half-hour.

Where do we go from here? I’d love to hear from attendees with suggestions. I think we still face a challenge effectively blending this publishing content into the broader Gilbane conference. But I think we’ve given it a home.

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