Musings on Mobility

Musings on Mobility

This guest blog was contributed by Scott Cullen.

I’ve been doing a lot of traveling the past two weeks to various dealer meetings (Sharp, Toshiba, Konica Minolta), and one of the prevailing trends that is impacting the latest offerings from not only these companies, but virtually everyone else in the industry as well, is mobility. Everybody is talking about it and addressing it in one way or another.

It’s a great trend. But let’s make one thing perfectly clear: Mobility and the concept of a mobile workforce isn’t exactly something new. We’ve always had a mobile workforce; we just never called it that. Anyone who travels for business or is consistently on the go outside of the office is part of that club. It’s not an exclusive club and it’s never been.

The true trend is the technology, solutions and services present in these environments today. Providers have finally uncorked their heads from the sand and realized that the members of this “mobility” club are a target market – usually residing in the same corporate environments they’ve been selling into all along. That’s the reason for the proliferation of tools and apps that make it easier and more efficient for mobile workers, including those of us traveling to these dealer meetings in Orlando and Las Vegas, to conduct business anywhere, anytime just as if we were perched behind a desk in a traditional office.

Mobile printing is without a doubt what most manufacturers seem to be focusing on. Think Konica Minolta’s PageScope, Xerox’s PrintBack, Ricoh’s HotSpot, Toshiba’s ePrint, Canon’s Mobile Print, and Sharp’s Mobile-iOS, to name a select few.

It’s not surprising that mobile print is the primary mobile application. It’s right in a traditional hardware manufacturer’s wheelhouse. One might even consider it a clever ruse to stave off, albeit temporarily, that declining print volume that is affecting and will continue to affect all segments of the industry. C’mon, who needs a print when an electronic copy will do?

While we’re on the subject of printing, it’s not an unrealistic concern to think that printed output may one day fade into the sunset. Remember that office with less paper that replaced the paperless office people were waxing prolific on in the 1980s? Don’t be surprised if that office with less paper has an expiration date. The exact date isn’t discernible right now, but do you really think that the next generation or the generation after that will be concerned about CPCs or print and copy volumes?

During the general session at the recent Konica Minolta dealer meeting, Rick Taylor showed images from “The Jetsons” as well as a 1960s vision of the future on the big screen to illustrate the changes going on in the industry. It was amusing to realize that we aren’t driving around in flying cars, nor do we have robots for maids. That future is still a long way off, so we can still laugh at it. I’m not sure who’s going to have the last laugh, though, as print volumes continue to plummet. All I know is that whoever is going to be doing the laughing will have the luxury of being able to do it anywhere anytime and will probably be able to share that reaction with friends on some electronic device. If we’re all lucky, it might even be a device made by a Konica Minolta or one of the other players and sold by a new breed of imaging technology dealer.

I’m hoping.


Scott Cullen

Scott Cullen is the editor of The Week in Imaging (, a weekly online publication, and a frequent contributor to office technology and imaging industry publications, including The Imaging Channel.

Posted on 11/22/2013