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by Kwan H Lo
Economical and environmental concerns change consumers’ buying
toner cartridge invades the market of OEM cartridge.
Due to the drop in price, laser printer has gained popularity among small
offices and home offices in recent years. The cheapest laser printers are
now selling under US$200 and outperform inkjet printers in both speed and
printing quality. Nevertheless, since most small offices have to print a
lot of documents, the cost of drum and laser toner can still be
prohibitive to those who are on a low budget.
Because of this, many consumers are turning to compatible and
remanufactured laser toner cartridges these days. Compatible or generic
toner cartridges, are like the generic drugs in pharmaceutical industry.
They meet the same specification of name brand cartridges but are offered
at one-half or one-third of the price. On the other hand, remanufactured
toner cartridges are name brand cartridges which have been through one
cycle of service. They are usually disassembled, cleaned, repaired and
refilled before releasing to the market again. Consumers who buy
remanufactured cartridges are not only concerned about the price, but
their benefit to the environment as well. One consumer was quoted saying
“I buy the remanufactured cartridges because it is good for the
environment, the lower price is just a bonus”.
With these discount toner cartridges taking up market share, printer
manufacturers are working hard to protect their profits. Some manufacturers try
to ban the sales of compatible cartridges in courts, claiming that they
have violated patent technology. Others have incorporated smart chips into
their cartridges to prevent consumers from using compatible cartridges or
remanufactured cartridges from third-party manufacturers.
Nevertheless, the market for compatible and remanufactured toner
cartridges is still blooming. Unless the price of OEM cartridges
come down remarkably to make them more competitive, many smart consumers
would still look for cheaper alternatives to meet their printing needs.