Mobile printing and those “in-between” moments

Christine Dunne
Nov 24, 2014

Close to three months ago, my family and I moved into a new home. For anyone who has experienced a move (probably most of us), you know how crazy it can be. Not only do you need to physically move and arrange your belongings, but you must also handle various administrative tasks as well as acclimate yourself to your new surroundings.

Boxes in our new home

The first few weeks in our home we were largely living out of boxes. We knew where our printer was, but we could not find any cables to set it up on a network or print directly from our PCs.

Normally, we would have just waited until we found these cables, but I needed to print! I needed to print, sign, and scan a number of documents for work, my bank, our mortgage company, and our homeowners’ insurance company.

I knew I couldn’t print from my laptop. But I thought I might be able to print from my Android smartphone. I went into my settings, clicked on Wi-Fi, and saw my phone detected the printer’s ad hoc wireless connection (Wi-Fi Direct). I connected my phone to this network, and was then able to print and scan via my mobile print app.

At this moment I came to a realization. This had been one of the first moments I really needed to print from my mobile device. Previously, I had had a network-connected laptop or desktop computer I could easily print from. There was no need to figure out how to print from my mobile device, even if I was frequently using it.

But because this time around I couldn’t connect my printer to my home network, and my laptop didn’t have the necessary technology to connect to my printer’s wireless connection, I was forced to rely on my smartphone.

With this in mind, I consider my first few weeks in my new home an “in-between” moment where I needed my smartphone to print and scan. Until I found those cables, my smartphone was the only way I could print. That got me to thinking about other potential moments where mobile printing/scanning might be required. Below are some possibilities:

  • While at an airport
  • While at a client site
  • When a home wireless network is down
  • When a work network is down
  • At a conference
  • When you don’t know the wireless network password
  • When you don’t have access to the wireless network
  • When your PC is broken
  • When your PC is off (and might take a while to reboot)

There are surely other examples of moments where you lack access to a traditional PC/printer set-up. In fact, InfoTrends’ upcoming multi-client study, Mobile Devices and the Impact on Print: Looking for the Opportunities, is aimed at identifying a full range of opportune mobile print scenarios.

I believe it is important for print industry players to continue identifying these scenarios, promoting them as opportunities for mobile printing, and optimizing devices for direct connections.

As more and more computing devices (laptops/PCs included) and printers support peer-to-peer networking, and people become more familiar with using various devices (e.g., cameras, TVs, projectors) in this manner, I believe they will be more likely to consider this option when needing to print or scan.

Of course, if people really need to print or scan, they will find a way to do so, whether it’s at the local copy shop or at a friend’s house. But as I can attest the convenience of being able to print to the nearest available printer is invaluable, particularly during life’s crazy moments.

For vendors seeking to identify the most likely opportunities for print from mobile devices, as well as what action can drive print from those devices, consider signing up for InfoTrends’ multi-client study on mobile devices and their impact on print.




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