Should the razor and blades business model of selling printers at rock bottom prices, only to force consumers to buy branded ink be changed? History is littered with cases where 3rd party ink manufacturers have sprung up only to be challenged by the printer manufacturers who build the printers they are making ink for. Some see it as infringing on patents and copyrights, but what really may be at stake is a healthy profit margin. Printer manufacturers would love to have a monopoly over the ink toner and inkjet cartridges, but this can obviously lead to a company charging what it wants for its products. If, for example, the price of a Lexmark inkjet printer was increased, could this not make up for a more reasonable price of Lexmark printer cartridges? The short answer is no. This is because printer companies have already grown accustomed to selling many cartridges through the year, meaning the price of continually producing high quality cartridges would quickly become strained. Lexmark inks are some of the best on the market, but investing in them can put a serious hole in your wallet. This is a particularly big problem for small businesses who need a lot of printing power. Their continued investment in branded inks will be vital for the printer manufacturer and it will be a significant part of their business model.
This represents a significant difficulty when it comes to industry change. What it might take is a bold move from a new printer manufacturer to charge more for printers, but less for cartridges. Also allowing the reuse of printer cartridges could make the initial investment in the printer seem more reasonable. But that begs the question of how much a printer needs to be sold for in order to see a healthy profit but also be within the price range of many consumers.