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HP cashes in on printing push

Hewlett-Packard says it has more than 625 customers for its printer outsourcing service and has signed deals worth more than $500 million.

Hewlett-Packard said Wednesday that it now has more than 625 customers for its printer outsourcing service and has signed deals worth more than $500 million.

In March, HP announced an expanded portfolio of printing-related services, saying that it can help companies save as much as 30 percent on their printing budgets. The company said it has closed new deals with pharmaceutical giant Bayer, Duke University and others. As part of its total print management service, HP said it has taken over the management of 30,000 printers for various clients.

"Many companies are recognizing they should manage their print environments with the same level of discipline they use to manage their overall computing environments," Ann Livermore, HP's services chief, said in a statement. "As more content and business processes go digital, customers are finding opportunities to rethink their printing assets to save significant money and time."

Within three years, HP estimates, the total market for such services will reach $17.5 billion.

"This is going to be one of the fastest-growing areas of the services business," Livermore said on a conference call with journalists Wednesday.

Even with its acquisition of Compaq Computer more than a year ago, HP gets a good chunk of its revenue and the bulk of its profits from its printing and imaging business. The company has pledged to return its money-losing PC and enterprise computing businesses to profitability this quarter and has been pushing to grow its services business.

Livermore said on the call that HP also has $300 million worth of business "in the funnel that we feel very good about our probability of closing."

As part of its printing services, HP works with companies in a variety of ways--from helping them better manage their own gear to selling printers on a pay-per-page basis and having customers completely outsource their printing business to HP.

"As we deploy customers' imaging and printing fleets, there are a number of payment and support options," HP's imaging and printing chief, Vyomesh Joshi, said on the call.

Joshi added that HP has something competitors don't have--expertise in both the computing and printing worlds.