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We Print 50 Trillion Pages a Year, and Xerox Is Betting That Continues (fortune.com) 86

An anonymous reader shares a report: For most of its 111-year history, Xerox has been known as one of the tech industry's most innovative companies. Now the legendary copier company is reinventing itself. In January, Xerox made the bold decision to split itself into two, spinning off its business services operations into a separate company called Conduent. And Jeffrey Jacobson, a Xerox tech executive, was tapped as Xerox's new CEO. Speaking with Fortune's Susie Gharib, Jacobson says Xerox is still "one of the top patent producing companies in the world" and he's counting on that scientific expertise to pivot the company to be a leader in digital print technology. "If I look at the things we're looking at with the Internet of things, artificial intelligence and bridging the digital and physical," he says, "that's what I think we'll be known for."
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We Print 50 Trillion Pages a Year, and Xerox Is Betting That Continues

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  • On my dot-matrix printer 30 years ago, I used to print code out. I haven't printed code in 25+ years. And now I rarely print anything.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You must not work for the government.

      • You must not work for the government.

        Everything I have printed on paper in the last few years was for a doctor, a lawyer, or a bureaucrat. My kids don't even use paper for school work. Project reports are done in Google docs and turned in electronically.

    • by rfengr ( 910026 )
      As an EE, I always print data sheets. It's a lot more convenient to have multiple in a desk, flipping between them and highlighting. Same for technical books. I always buy print. Ebooks are for casual reading where the page will never be revisited.
      • I'm the exact opposite with eBooks. I now have all of my technical reference books in eBook form -- they're much easier for me to use that way, and I always have my entire library with me.

        For recreational reading, though, eBooks aren't for me at all.

      • by timftbf ( 48204 )

        Technical ebooks are far easier and cheaper to update, especially if you get them from a publisher who understands that, and does so, free of charge. (Hi PragProg! I hope others do the same...)

    • by jwhyche ( 6192 ) on Thursday August 17, 2017 @05:39PM (#55037239) Homepage

      I bought a $100 laser printer 4 years ago to print out "official" documents for bureaucrats that don't take email. I print a dozen documents a year and mainly keep the dust off it.

    • by Quirkz ( 1206400 )

      I used to print out web sites. So the copy editor could mark them up and hand me back the changes. God, it seems stupid how that works.

      Also, it took nearly a year for her to stop querying the lack of double spaces after periods. I kept insisting that HTML didn't support double spaces and she didn't really believe me. (I know I could have faked it with forced whitespace, but I wasn't going to admit to that atrocious possibility.)

    • I print code. I print email. I print news articles. I print jokes. If I'm bored, I print spam. Heck, I'm sure I account for at least a trillion of the 50 trillion pages, and I'm only seventh in the world rankings at last count.
  • Bullshit (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Thursday August 17, 2017 @04:38PM (#55036797)

    50 trillion pages would be more than 5000 pages per person per year. Most of us won't hit that lifetime. My yearly total might hit 20 this year. I don't buy that being even remotely real.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I work for a local xerox core company and can say it's probably a bit low. Every small office in Iowa has at least one if not three or four printers. Over half of what gets printed ends up in the trash within a week I would bet though.

      • Over half of what gets printed ends up in the trash within a week I would bet though.

        When Sony came out with the PlayStation 2, they were updating their standards do quite frequently and 40+ testers at the video game company I worked for printed out a copy. When the standards doc got updated weekly and everyone printed out a copy, we ran out of paper by midweek after Monday's office supply delivery. Management decreed that only one copy per bullpen (four people) would get printed. We went back to individual copies after Sony started updating the standards doc once in a blue moon.

    • Re:Bullshit (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mhkohne ( 3854 ) on Thursday August 17, 2017 @04:52PM (#55036889) Homepage

      I just looked at the data from the printer at my office. Small company (~15 right now), and our test results and much of our documentation are printed out so they can be stored forever in a filing cabinet (medical device). Among our printers, it comes to something shy of 5 pages/person/day average, which is about 1825 pages/year.

      But Xerox doesn't just do relatively small stuff like that. Think of a financial planner, printing out 400 page reports several times per year for each of their clients. Is that shit useful? Absolutely not. But it's pages printed.

      Or think of someplace that still sends paper bills- I know I get a paper bill every month from my utility company. At Nthousand customers, they can REALLY push up the average if they are running Xerox gear for that operation.

      So yea, you and I don't print anything like that. But then someone else pushes way up on the average.

      • I was in a conference room at a law firm last month. Across the hall was a printer the size of a large refrigerator. It was printing and collating continuously for the entire two hours I was there. It looked like it was printing several pages per second.

        I wonder if a human eye will ever look at even 1% of those pages.

        • I was in a conference room at a law firm last month. Across the hall was a printer the size of a large refrigerator. It was printing and collating continuously for the entire two hours I was there. It looked like it was printing several pages per second.

          I wonder if a human eye will ever look at even 1% of those pages.

          Those that are looked at, will be looked at by lawyers...so 1% being seen by humans is still way too high.

      • Paper is everywhere. Just off the top of my head:

        Novels, Comics, textbooks, journals, lesson plans, instruction manuals, warranty information, contracts, flyers, bills, advertisements, receipts, photographs, the list goes on.

        One example of massive printing is Aircraft Manuals and other related stuff. A car manual and such are likely 100 pages max, but there's one per car. Aircraft manuals and Technical Orders can be on the order of 800+ pages, and they *must* be accessible in the aircraft (at least, DoD reg

    • How many catalogs and such do you get in the mail? Those are often printed on high-volume industrial printers, bound up and mailed to you... Doesn't take too many of them to reach 5000 pages per person!
    • Let do a little Googling and a little arithmetic.

      A sheet of 8.5x11 paper weighs about 6 grams (100 grams per square meter) so 50 trillion pages is 300 million tons of printed paper.

      In 2015 world paper production was 400 million tons, so this is 3/4 of the world's paper being used for printing.

      Seems high - there is a lot of paper used in packaging and other uses, but possible the printed fraction is this high. But it would include every sort of printing at all: books, newspapers, magazines, advertising circu

      • A lot of (I would say most) packaging is still printed on. Pretty much every box in the mail has a logo of some sort. There's also a lot of plastic being printed on.

        And does your figure count just tree-paper production which is typically what you'll get from most estimates but you should also add recycled paper to the mix.

        • by epine ( 68316 )

          I just measured my fairly stiff and robust home stock at 5.5 g per US page. Many offices use paper half this robust.

    • 50 trillion pages would be more than 5000 pages per person per year. Most of us won't hit that lifetime.

      During my snail mail days of submitting 50+ manuscripts each month, it took six years to go through the 50,000-page duty cycle of the drum on my laser printer. Four years ago I replaced the old printer with a new printer because it was cheaper than replacing the $200 drum. The new printer also printed faster and had wireless support for iPad and iPhone. I've only printed ~2,000 pages since then. Manuscripts are submitted via email these days.

    • Based on what my company still prints on a daily basis for invoices, new employees, and other items I would think it's right. My company struggles to go paperless which drives me nuts. It's costly to print, and slows the business process down. We try to force some of our customers over to electronic invoicing and EDI, but there's a lot of push back there too.

      • The company I work for has a similar problem, but opposite-like.

        I get my paychecks direct-deposited, and have access to my stubs electronically. And yet they still insist on mailing me a 100% worthless printed stub every pay cycle. I tried to get them to stop, but eventually gave up.

    • That's 15 pages per day of printed material... I think that is pretty reasonable I get a bunch more than that in my mailbox alone. But I'm in the US, so I suspect I should be in the higher end of paper use. That said, I rarely print.. Though I can burn through a ton of paper getting a publication to look just right on a page.
  • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Thursday August 17, 2017 @04:44PM (#55036835)

    Xerox is well-known for missing the significance of what they had at PARC back in the day, and letting Steve Jobs ransack the place to develop the Mac. One of the lesser known stories, mentioned in "Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age" [amzn.to] by Michael A. Hiltzik, was how Xerox dismissed the laser printer [history-computer.com] as they didn't want to cannibalize their copier sales. A delimma that most technology companies encounter when they have a cash cow product and a newer product that would replace it. HP came out with the first personal laser printer in 1980 and turned toner cartridges into a cash cow.

    • Xerox also has had a string of bad management. The previous CEO was Marissa Mayer on steroids. The company has really been coasting by since the late 2000s and also shedding a lot of US factories, labs and divisions to stay afloat.

  • I don't know why any company would be proud of NOT being green and eco-friendly at all. Think of the number of trees killed to produce this paper.
    • i-84 in eastern oregon is an example of this btw. there's a tree farm near Boardman that produces poplars for paper production. It's about 5 -10 miles long across the freeway, and easily another couple miles deep.

      Farms like that are where your paper comes from (or it's simply recycled).

      • I have seen those 'forests' so many times. They are the weirdest looking things, strait rows. They put up a big sign when they harvest one, I don't recall exactly what it says, I haven't been on that route for several years.
        A grand sight, the poster child for renewable resources.

        And beautiful in their own right as well.

        Now I've a desire to head down to Multnomah falls next weekend as I love the drive down US30. Top off, wind in your hair...maybe up Mt Hood the next day....sorry, off-topic daydreaming, but i
        • I have seen those 'forests' so many times.

          That's because they can't really be considered "forests". They're tree farms. The two are very, very different.

    • See, trees are pretty much the definition of renewable resources.

      If you don't like logging, try wiping your ass with plastic.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 17, 2017 @05:02PM (#55036975)

    I've spent 20+ years in the transactional / EDPP print industry helping to support an operation that produces 300+M pages of output annually with equipment handling over 1400 unique pages / minute. I've debugged PostScript jobs in excess of 2GB in size and over 1M pages, and PDFs of similar scope and scale. Worked, advised, and consulted with the key leaders in the industry including Adobe, Xerox, Oce, Konika-Minolta, Kodak, HP, Xeikon. My point to the street cred is that here's what I'm seeing...

    Statement print is not dead, but is slowly and steady declining. E-delivery of statements, especially through secure trusted third-party systems such as Dropbox, is enabling this transformation. The area that will continue to see print is in durable copy requirements. Right now physical media (paper, plastic, etc.) is the only one that can meet the specific needs of this industry segment. Physical print is also the only proven medium for ultra-long-term archiveability. Yes, there is millennium disc, and similar technology. However, the printed page only requires two things to interpret it - the ability to view the document in some manner (e.g. light), and knowledge on how to decode the symbology. Everything else requires more steps, and a higher level up the technology curve.

    That isn't to say that we should abandon e-delivery for physical print. There are a large number of transient items that e-print is more than perfectly acceptable for - including most monthly/annual bills and statements, receipts for most items, etc. And having an electronic version for searchability just makes a lot of sense in the modern age - books, congressional bills, executive orders, etc. But, the final, unmuteable, version should be on acid-free paper or parchment.

    As for packaging print - it will never die. Not until someone can deliver my Honeynut Cheerios electronically - there will still be a need for this technology.

    Regarding the OP - Xerox has had two major problems... converting their lab work into sell-able items. Xerox PARC invented PostScript (which beget PDF through project Carousel at Adobe), GUI, Ethernet, and many of the other inventions that made modern technology use able. 2) They have a really, really hard time keeping their equipment up to current technology, outsourced all their engineering. Not just shipped it overseas, OUTSOURCED IT!, and refuse to let new technology cannibalize market-share from their existing installed base. For example, PostScript (initially called Interpress) was found to possibly "compete" with their LCDS and Metacode languages. Rather than add a third, they deep-sixed it. John and Chuck took it, started Adobe (name of the creek behind John's house) and it became Adobe's first product. Xerox attempted to play catch-up, but never could. Eventually LCDS, Metacode (and IBM's AFP) started to become more and more relegated to narrower and narrower workflows as PostScript and PDF have taken over the marketspace.

    Good luck to Xerox in getting their cranium extricated from their arse. But, I expect them to end up much like Kodak (which invented digital photography)

    Fred in IT
     

    • I've spent 20+ years in the transactional / EDPP print industry helping to support an operation that produces 300+M pages of output annually with equipment handling over 1400 unique pages / minute. I've debugged PostScript jobs in excess of 2GB in size and over 1M pages, and PDFs of similar scope and scale. Worked, advised, and consulted with the key leaders in the industry including Adobe, Xerox, Oce, Konika-Minolta, Kodak, HP, Xeikon. My point to the street cred is that here's what I'm seeing...

      Statement print is not dead, but is slowly and steady declining. E-delivery of statements, especially through secure trusted third-party systems such as Dropbox, is enabling this transformation. The area that will continue to see print is in durable copy requirements. Right now physical media (paper, plastic, etc.) is the only one that can meet the specific needs of this industry segment. Physical print is also the only proven medium for ultra-long-term archiveability. Yes, there is millennium disc, and similar technology. However, the printed page only requires two things to interpret it - the ability to view the document in some manner (e.g. light), and knowledge on how to decode the symbology. Everything else requires more steps, and a higher level up the technology curve.

      That isn't to say that we should abandon e-delivery for physical print. There are a large number of transient items that e-print is more than perfectly acceptable for - including most monthly/annual bills and statements, receipts for most items, etc. And having an electronic version for searchability just makes a lot of sense in the modern age - books, congressional bills, executive orders, etc. But, the final, unmuteable, version should be on acid-free paper or parchment.

      As for packaging print - it will never die. Not until someone can deliver my Honeynut Cheerios electronically - there will still be a need for this technology.

      Regarding the OP - Xerox has had two major problems... converting their lab work into sell-able items. Xerox PARC invented PostScript (which beget PDF through project Carousel at Adobe), GUI, Ethernet, and many of the other inventions that made modern technology use able. 2) They have a really, really hard time keeping their equipment up to current technology, outsourced all their engineering. Not just shipped it overseas, OUTSOURCED IT!, and refuse to let new technology cannibalize market-share from their existing installed base. For example, PostScript (initially called Interpress) was found to possibly "compete" with their LCDS and Metacode languages. Rather than add a third, they deep-sixed it. John and Chuck took it, started Adobe (name of the creek behind John's house) and it became Adobe's first product. Xerox attempted to play catch-up, but never could. Eventually LCDS, Metacode (and IBM's AFP) started to become more and more relegated to narrower and narrower workflows as PostScript and PDF have taken over the marketspace.

      Good luck to Xerox in getting their cranium extricated from their arse. But, I expect them to end up much like Kodak (which invented digital photography)

      Fred in IT

      Yeah in 1997 when I read PCWorld (yes you had to go to the magazine section in those days besides chips & dip which eventually became slashdot) they had articles on how by 2001 the paperless office would be here as well as cat5 cables being a thing of the past with everyone in an office using WIFI. 20 years have past and the article mentions people are printing now more than ever.

      Kind of sad. My guess is countries like India and China are much richer now with office equipment which they did not have in

  • With additional monitors so cheap these days, the rationale I had for printing out code is gone. And Xerox has never made inroads into the SOHO market, so I don't know where they expect to grow. I've print about 2 pages a year, if that. So there's my 2 cents... contribution to the Xerox bottom line.
  • in my experience: 1. mainframe/tower, low page count.relatively expensive. 2. laptop, printing quadrupled.easy/cheap. 3. smartphone, massive due to medical.
  • Xerox is still "one of the top patent producing companies in the world"

    That's good, Apple and MS still need new ideas to steal.

    • by jwhyche ( 6192 )

      That's good, Apple and MS still need new ideas to steal.

      Naw. They are still plenty of old ideals for them to steal, and fuck up. I give you virtual desktops on windows 10. Something that has been around 30 years. Microsoft finally steals it and promptly fucks it right up the ass.

  • Is there any color laser that does not cost an arm and a leg in consumables? Seems the technology has been stagnant for 20 years.
    • Xerox, Brother and OKI all have very affordable cartridges, especially after-market.

    • Amazon has a Xerox color laser printer [amzn.to] for $196 and consumables are about $133 to $199. That seems affordable for a color laser printer. My monochrome laser printer cost $200 and consumables are $80.
      • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 )

        HP LJ2 with the network cable plugged into the wifi router. Cost £45 with half full cartridge. 1st cartridge was about the same price, quick search - genuine hp cart is £30 which includes recycle program or I wouldn't use it.

      • consumables are about $133 to $199. That seems affordable for a color laser printer.

        From where I stand, that seems like the direct opposite of "affordable".

  • by p51d007 ( 656414 ) on Thursday August 17, 2017 @05:23PM (#55037123)
    I remember in the mid 80's, the paperwork reduction act came along...printing went UP. Computers, have been the biggest asset to printing/copying more, as more and more data in detail is available. When the HIPPA health law came along, my volumes went UP. As long as you have lawyers & government, there WILL be paperwork. Our FM audit tracking program counts "the clicks" on all of our clients, and quarter after quarter, the volumes continue to increase. Just about every photocopier manufacturer, at one point or another has introduced "erasable" copiers. Most bomb because the cost of the toner is way out of line. What it does is melts the toner at a LOWER heat rate. The "ink" on the paper, is a blue color. To "erase" it, you run it through a separate box, about the size of a paper shredder. The "eraser" passes the paper through a special set of fuser rollers (heat & pressure), at a HIGHER temperature. It changes the dye in the ink on the page, from a blue color, to a transparent color. If you look at the paper under the correct lighting, you can see where the print was, you just cant read it. It's good for about 3-4 passes before so many layers have been deposited on the paper, that it can't add anymore through the normal copy process. It's good for "throwaway" stuff, meetings and what not, but still too expensive to make it mainstream. We have A LOT of people now, scanning and archiving store documents, but they continue to PRINT hard copies of new stuff. I really don't see "the copier" going away anytime soon, since now, most are what is known as multi function printers (MFP). Print, copy, scan, fax, email, web all from one box. And with cloud printing, you can print to the machine from your smartphone, or store it on a private box to print later, or you can pull documents remotely. Most have contactless touch to print using your phone also. On the tech side of it, we really like these new machines. We can remote into them, check error logs, remotely change settings if needed, update the software and do all sorts of things, that before, you would have to respond to the location, see what it needs, either bring a bunch of stuff with you, or make a return trip. Now you can do a lot of it right from your phone. I tell people that sometimes, I don't even get my tools out, I just plug my laptop into the machines, or, whip out my phone.
    • Erasable is completely useless. Have you ever tried putting even slightly wrinkled paper back in a printer? Forget it.
    • As long as you have lawyers & government, there WILL be paperwork.

      Agreed and I would add insurance and medical to that list. Been working in the legal industry for the last 20 years or so and convinced that paper is not going anywhere anytime soon.

      We used to have a 3rd party printer guy to fix our HP 8000s and other big copier units (Kyocera).. now they are all leased Ricoh MFPs and other 'smart' printers where the tech knows there is a problem before I do :)

  • ... regarding so-called 'paper-less offices':

    The paper-less office is just as likely as the paper-less bathroom

  • What we need is e-paper

    1) that has the advantages of physical paper - low cost, thin, lightweight, foldable, doesn't break if you drop it

    2) and the advantages of electronic devices - re-usable, read/write computer files, can display videos with sound.

    Current e-tablets aren't convenient, if you have to flip between pages a lot. I'd love to have someone invent e-paper that was as thin and flexible as paper, and that cost only $10 a "page".

    How many pages of e-paper would you need to buy? Well, how many pieces

  • I was just trying to think of the last time I printed something. I believe it was about four years ago, when I had to print a single-page release form because that's what a company required.

  • Not quite as drastic as it sounds. In 2010 or so Xerox bought a service company called ACS in a multi billion dollar deal. Trying to stay in competition with with Dell and HP as they bought up big service companies. Turned out to not be as profitable as they hoped among other problems.

    The "split" or spin off company is nothing more than the old ACS being made it's own company again, with a name change. Very little of it ever had anything to do with the Xerox printer portion of the company.

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