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Thursday, March 4, 2010


The song may be getting old - yet another IT giant making a courtesy call in Nairobi - a city many believe is on its way to becoming a financial and IT hub for the region.

But Hewlett Packard the world's largest computer maker (remember they swallowed Compaq when Iron Lady Carly Fiorina ran the firm ) broke out some serious hardware when it launched its global roadshow dubbed Printonomics 2010 at the Safaripark Hotel this week. BTW this is the first time the roadshow is starting in Africa.

But before we get to the products you have to hear these guys talk about how gazillions of printouts are done across the world and why they see business only getting better.

By the end of this decade, a guys called Hassan who heads HP Africa explained animatedly, we will be printing 16 billion books a year, 3billion cards, 1 billion newspapers and 1.5 trillion packaging materials.

Hugging the entire wall of one of the presentation rooms was this massive grand piano looking HP Printer that apparently can even print on tiles. Presentations went on for too long we didnt get a chance to get a load of what it could do but from the looks of it, its industrial grade nothome or business.

I can see it being used for these big billboards that meet you at every major intersection in

Closer to consumers pockets was this rolling-pin sized mobile document scanner that can even do business cards - so I guess at company events instead of the bowl PR guys give us to drop in our business cards they can scan your card and return it to you and save the data electronically.

That baby comes to Kenya in May with a ex-factory price of 249 euros (Sh25,000).

For engineers and architects comes a non-networked printer that can take even A3 paper in its printer like tray and scan immediately and even in colour to your computer. It is the fastest scanner in the HP stable and has 5000 page duty cycle per day.

Another standout was this scanner that sports a keyboard along with a colour touchscreen menu for you to configure your scanning desires. It is also a sheet-fit model apparently people are moving away from the flat bed scanner that you open place a document on and close to scan.

Sheet-fit scanners can take a shuffle of documents and scan them one at a time to your computer or to email.

After scanning, the HP guy said, you can quickly send it as email using the fitted in keyboard.

Quite a few HP customers attended the extravaganza at Safari Park Hotel and were duly taken on a tour to see the range of products.

One thing however that came out of the show is a decisive entry by HP into the solutions business sort of like a utility company.

Instead of buying HP printers, the company is using a rent model where it comes in and assesses your printing and imaging needs, how much you spend on printing and possible wastage areas.

It then proposes a solution, the appropriate number of printers and brings in the equipment itself. You pay a monthly fee and buy your paper but all other things are handled by HP. It also allows you to issue your staff with PIN numbers to use for printing so that the habit of double clicking on the print button that leads to mountain of printouts left beside the printers is reduced.

And it can give you printing reports to see how staff are printing.

Strathmore is apparently on the system for its 2000 students and 300 staff. HP has put in six printers against the recommended 12 and is charging a minimum of Sh200,000 per month for the Managed Service.

I'm hoping HP will me the pics and spec sheets of all the new lines of products any time soon. Nairobitech will also pay a site visit to Strathmore University to see how this is being implemented.

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