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The money is in the ink. This is what Terrence Iwamoto, vice president for international sales at Computer Business Works Inc. in Asia, said at the launch of the company’s universal ink refill system. Citing the significant difference of the size of ink cartridges then and now, Iwamoto said that printer companies are now realizing that there is more profit in selling ink than the hardware itself. This is why printer companies can be seen giving printer upgrades for free or selling printers at discounted prices lately while their ink cartridges keep getting smaller, he said.

Comparing this phenomenon to that of the strategy by mobile phone companies where handsets are given away for free, granting that subscribers will keep coming back to them for prepaid credits (in the case of prepaid subscribers) or that they have a captive market (in the case of post-paid subscribers), Iwamoto said that most printer companies today now sell printers with ink cartridges that are half the size of cartridges back then. “They want you to go back,” he said. “These companies can earn as much as $8,000 just from one gallon of ink.”

Ink refills big market: The Philippines

Seeing the Philippines as a big market, Computer Business Works now seeks to penetrate the local market through its inkjet refill system and universal toner refill kits. Aware of its biggest direct competitor, Ink for Less, Iwamoto said that the market is so big that not one or two companies can keep up with the demand. Offering what he calls a more practical alternative for consumers, Iwamoto said that with the Universal “Colorfast” Inkjet Refill System and the Universal Toner Refill Kit, consumers get refills that produce output equal to or even better in quality than the original equipment manufacturer at a significantly lower total cost.

The universal “colorfast” inkjet refill system is for inkjet and bubble printers while the universal toner refill kits are for laser printers, plain paper fax machines, and small office photocopiers. Aside from the fact that using the universal refill systems will mean less industrial waste in landfills, Iwamoto said that the universal refill kits are environment-friendly and will not cause any health hazards as long as they are handled properly.

The product will also not harm printers, plain fax machines, or photocopiers and should not void any printer warranty, said Iwamoto. He added that most printer companies often claim that using refurbished cartridges can result in damaged print heads, ink leaks, and inferior output while some companies say that using such cartridges will void their warranty. “This is usually driven by profit motives,” said Iwamoto.

With the refill kits, customers can save money by doing the refill themselves or they can pay a little more to have Computer Business Works do it for them, said Iwamoto. The refill kits come with print head cleaners, refilling tools, and the universal instruction manual. The ink refill kits, available in colorfast “black” and colorfast “color” kits, are designed to refill cartridges from brands like Hewlett Packard, Epson, Lexmark, Canon, Xerox, Okidata, Pitney Bowes, Brother, Sharp, and Dell, among others, while the toner refill kits can refill cartridges from HP, Canon, Epson, and Lexmark laser printers.

“The product is photo grade, archival (acid-free), and colorfast,” Iwamoto said. “They also contain ultra-violet protection which prevents prints from immediately fading because of too much sun exposure.” With a conservative $100,000 revenue target for its first year in the country, Computer Business Works expects to grow triple by its second year and increase even more in subsequent years.

With no local office in the country yet, the company delegated the conduct of all official business locally to its distributor, Banbros Commercial Inc. “We are currently negotiating with our distributor, Banbros, to have franchise stores or refilling stations set up in the country,” he said.

For more information about the universal refill kits, contact Banbros Commercial Inc. at (632) 727-3009 local 1320 to 26.