HP’s CEO Enrique Lores spoke to CNBC last week regarding the class-action lawsuit on the company’s blocking of third-party ink with a range of reasons, from saying the company is only protecting its IP to claiming cartridges can carry computer viruses.
At first, Lores goes with the tried-and-true argument that HP is only protecting its intellectual property (IP), but soon after deviates to a series of dubious claims that an end user might actually be in danger if they use a third-party ink cartridge.
“It can stop the printer from working because the inks have not been designed to be used in our printers,” Lores responded when asked if it was possible for third-party ink to damage an HP printer.
“It can [also] create security issues. We have seen that you can embed viruses in the cartridges, through the cartridges to the printer, and through the printer they go to the network. So it creates many more problems.”
If that sounds absurd, that is because it very likely is. While HP was able to prove that the claim is indeed possible, it’s highly unlikely to take place and there is no evidence that such an attack ever happened in the real world.
“There’s a sense from cybersecurity professionals that Ars spoke with that even if such a threat exists, it would take a high level of resources and skills, which are usually reserved for targeting high-profile victims. Realistically, the vast majority of individual consumers and businesses shouldn’t have serious concerns about ink cartridges being used to hack their machines,” ArsTechnica writes in a detailed report.
Lores doesn’t stop there. He says that HP’s goal is to “make printing a subscription” and that remains the company’s long term goal, since HP loses money on the hardware (the actual printer) but make that money back on the supplies. He coats this statement in a promise that this approach is more “sustainable,” as the company would take the empty cartridges back and reuse them.
“We announced this as our goal a couple of years ago that our goal was to reduce the number of what we call ‘unprofitable customers’ because every time a customer buys a printer, it is an investment for us,” Lores says.
“We’re investing in this customer and if this customer doesn’t print enough or doesn’t use our supplies, it’s a bad investment.”