HP has been making waves when it comes to its printers both at home and in office by locking people out of their printers if they decide to use off-brand ink or toner. This is either due to users buying into newer models or accepting firmware updates that secretly add this new security feature without a warning.
It has actually been happening for a number of years now and has even trigger lawsuits as users feel as if their printers are being held hostage of worse. By worse, some models have experienced complete meltdown as users find their printer bricked after trying to use a generic alternative to HP’s pricey expendables.
Despite all of the bad press and legal attention, the company continues to stand by its decision. Demanding that users buy replacements from the company or even opt into subscription services. All because this is where HP really makes its profit. Like some video game consoles, most printer companies sell their models at a loss. Hoping to make profit on ink/toner through the life of the model.
There is a huge mark-up here and thus a pretty decent profit for these companies. At least, until generic options move in to take away that business with affordable alternatives. Something HP takes offense to and reacts by locking people out of their printer or at least from using the generic cartridges. By adding special chips to the cartridges, it allows the printer to verify that everything is legit and not off-brand.
HP’s own CEO, Enrique Lores, told CNBC in an interview that the company considers its customers as an investment. And if they don’t buy their official cartridges, they are a bad investment. The company then came out (a little too late) with an excuse that it is looking out for its customer’s safety, as wrong-doers may try to embed viruses on unofficial cartridges using knock-off chips. Something that has never been seen in the wild and sounds pretty wild in itself.
The company thinks it can convince customers into the thought process that it is for their own good. When really, it is so the company can rake in a profit and protect its interests (in its various “investments”). So there is a pretty good chance that the lawsuit won’t work out well for HP. Or if anything, it will result in a pretty decent decline in customers that are savvy enough to know what they themselves are investing into.
In the meantime, some users have been finding ways to “roll-back” the firmware updates on some of these models. An option that doesn’t work on all of them. But some have been successful in doing this and you can find various walkthroughs on the web. We won’t post any ourselves as this may result in getting an evil eye from HP. But if you consider the success of the fight for right of self-repair, you can likely assume that being able to roll the firmware back should be just as righteous.