AT&T, Hewlett-Packard Have Big Plans for ITV Printer

Hewlett-Packard Co. and AT&T Interactive Television Service have said they will sell their co-developed Interactive TV printer on their Web sites, and both will work to develop a co-branded Interactive Television portal to allow consumers to purchase HP products from their homes through the ITV service.

The companies last week announced they will introduce a printer designed specifically for use with interactive television.

“Our company believes that people will use interactive television,” said Greg Pershall, public relations manager for the HP DeskJet line. “Hewlett-Packard is interested in providing printers to emerging markets as well as PCs. This printer is very special in the sense that it adds more value for the customer and for the advertiser when there is some type of fulfillment option through interactive television that requires a hard copy. It's no different from the new online ticketing agencies. It's a new way of delivering services.”

Marketers will be able to offer coupons, tickets, receipts and a multitude of other image-based content to consumers through the printer. Consumers also can use the printer for traditional PC content like e-mail and Web pages.

“The interactive TV platform is compelling for customers, advertisers and content developers,” said Tracy Hollingsworth, media relations manager at AT&T Broadband. “It allows immediate customer response. With the printer, customers can immediately access coupons or product information directly after seeing a compelling marketing message.”

Though this partnership is exclusive to AT&T, Pershall said it opens the door to other partnerships with ITV providers. HP is the leader in ink jet printers, holding approximately 47 percent of the U.S. market.

“If we were to investigate opportunities with other companies, we would pursue a similar developmental strategy,” Pershall said. “That would be of the greatest benefit for our customers. To make them download more software or to have a CD shipped to them would be a step we would prefer them not to go through, so working with other companies to install these features in their set-tops would be attractive.”

HP also has plans to provide a system that allows three PC printer models to be used with interactive television.

Canon was first to the market in January with the introduction of a similar ITV printer for use with WebTV. The printer is available at retail. Canon was unavailable for comment.

The appliance is being developed in coordination with AT&T's Broadband division, Englewood, CO, and will be introduced with AT&T's Interactive Television service, which will debut at the end of this year. The printer is designed to fit into an entertainment system and looks and functions much like a VCR, with the paper coming out from the front.

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