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Taxis and Print: New Business Models for New Technology

Monday, 28 July 2014 | By Gerry Mulvaney


By Gerry Mulvaney, European Sales Manager, Landa Digital Printing

The recent spate of strikes by taxi drivers across Europe to protest at the arrival of the clever Uber taxi app from the USA, reminds me a lot of the challenges we have faced in the printing industry.

In case you have missed it, the drivers in London for example went on strike against the decision by Transport for London, the taxi licencing authority in the city, to allow minicab drivers to pick up clients using the Uber app.

The traditional London black cab drivers have the monopoly on the use of metered journeys in the capital and have to spend two or three years studying the London geography before they sit a very strict examination to get their licence. Once they are licenced, they can ply for trade and be flagged down on the streets of London, with fares quite a bit higher than the traditional minicab drivers, who have to be summoned by telephone.

What Uber has now done is disrupt this monopoly by allowing customers to “flag down” cabs via a smartphone and know in advance what the fare will be, with the “taxi meter” sitting on the Uber server in the cloud. It is this use of a “ software taxi meter” that is at the heart of the dispute, but of course the issue is not the advance of technology, as the black cab drivers could do the same, but the disruption of their business model by the arrival of a complete outsider.

It has a resonance with me of the trade union wars in the printing industry in the UK in the 1980s, where the traditional methods of hot-metal typesetting dominated by skilled male craftsmen was initially disrupted and then destroyed by the arrival of Apple technology and the WYSIWYG screen. There was a short war fought and lost by the striking compositors and printers against the technology.

As with the impact of the Uber app in European cities today, it was not faster hot metal machines that eventually put Linotype and Monotype out of business, but a new technology that no one saw coming.

The Initial Nanography® Shock Is Over. Let the Disruption Begin.

Of course the arrival of Benny Landa’s Nanography® process is not unexpected; the initial shock of seeing it at drupa has passed and CxOs are keenly interested in its disruptive effects and how it may change business models for commercial printing and folding carton and enable them to create new revenue streams. With a history stretching back to Guttenberg and beyond, printers aren’t afraid of change, they embrace it.

Crowd on Landa booth watching livestream of Landa show at drupa 2012Huge crowd at Landa’s drupa 2012 booth – heralding the imminent disruption in the printing industry?


Image source (lobby):

Folding Carton Market