Hello.  This is Andy Tribute at WhatTheyThink.com.  Welcome to 2011.  No doubt this will be another year of major technology change and development where we see devise of digital technology, devise of the eBook, devise of all sorts of other things potentially.  No one quite knows exactly what'll happen but this will be an interesting year.

Last year was the year where we saw the arrival, successful arrival really of continuous high-speed inkjet moving into different market areas, transactional print and particular of interest in this industry the book printing industry.  This happened mainly in the USA, limited amount outside, fairly little in my country, in the UK, at this stage.

The key thing that I think that's happened in the last week was an announcement made at the CES Show, the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas, and this came from Memjet, the division of Silverbrook Research from Australia.  Silverbrook Research is very innovative company in the development of inkjet technology and has one of the highest levels of patents in this whole industry.

A few years ago, Silverbrook Research introduced the Memjet technology.  Memjet being a very high resolution, high performance inkjet print head.  And at that sort of stage they were pointing out you could have a desktop printer that would run the speeds we get high speed or medium speed at zero graphic printers running, but at a fraction of the cost.  It took an awful long time, however, for this technology to come to market.  I think a lot of us had almost given up on them, but we saw the first Memjet implementation being shown at Drupa last year in the label printing market.  But the key thing that was announced last week was that Memjet through three of its OEM partners introduced a new office inkjet printer.  Well who cares?  There's lots of office printers, but the key thing about this was this was a 60-page a minute, which is pretty quick for the office, a 60-page a minute and an A4, 11x8 1/2 size inkjet printer but costing $600.  Now we've got $600 printers but they're not that speed and we've got printers at that speed and they certainly aren't that price.

If you want an office printer running at 60 pages a minute you'll pay in excess of $20,000 for it; however, this is very interesting because it opens up new market opportunities.  Now I'm not saying that we're looking in this industry for a 60-page a minute desktop printer, particularly one that only takes sheets in and delivers sheets out, but when you look at the technology of what could happen with this I think it's very interesting.

What we don't have at the moment in continuous feed inkjet is a range of very interesting printers running at high speed but costing well in excess of a million dollars.  Now it's a very difficult question for a printer to think do I invest in this when I don't even know there's a market for it.  It's interesting.  I'm working with one of the leading UK book printers at the moment who's looking under market pressure from their customers to put in a print-on-demand solution.  They do have digital printing at the moment but not high-speed continuous feed inkjet.  And they're not sure because they're not getting any interest from other publishers because very few publishers really are aware of what's possible at the moment, and yet they're being asked to go in for the solution to spend $3, $4 million to put in a printer where they don't even know there's a market for it because their traditional publishers don't even accept that they need to make a change in what they're doing.

So is there a bigger market if we could get the price of these machines down much, much lower?  Perhaps not with such high performance?  So I think Memjet has real fascination because when you consider Memjet is a print head 8 1/2 inches wide with low cost and low running cost; low running costs of inks, et cetera.  But its speed that it's faster than any other comparable print head.  And if you then say perhaps think what HP has done with its T300, and other printers, in terms of putting a lot of print heads together to improve the resolution and to improve the speed and to improve the redundancy situation, then you think well why can't someone do that with the Memjet and I think that's the sort of thing you can expect to see happening.

So far Memjet's OEMs are in the office space, the small office space, et cetera.  If someone was to take the Memjet heads, and I'm sure this may well happen, and decide to build a high-speed or medium speed continuous feed inkjet printer that could sell for well under a million dollars, I think this would be very interesting to see.  Now I'm not announcing anything; I don't know if anything's happening, but certainly it's the sort of thing I think has a lot of interest and certainly the Memjet guys tell me that they're quite a lot more announcements to come this year.

So it will be fascinating to see if we see anything in that area, because I think this is a breakthrough potential area.  If someone can come up with the right product and the right speed with the right quality, and I don't think the Memjet quality is there yet, they need to make some improvements on it to be able to use pigment inks, which they can't do at the moment, but this is the sort of thing we have to look at in this industry and say is this going to change the market.

Over the next year I will be doing videos on a very regular basis and talking about all sorts of technologies.  We can expect some interesting things in the not too distant future; for example, in February Heidelberg, well I think it's February, will announce its strategy for coming back into the digital printing area.

That's going to be interesting.  I think I know the strategy and I think they've got a good message to tell us, so that will be worth listening to.

But anyway, have a good 2011.  It's going to be an interesting year and this is Andy Tribute at WhatTheyThink.com.