HP Tests Mobile Printing Service

Customers can print documents virtually anywhere.

Hewlett-Packard is testing an innovative, new Web-based service that will allow mobile users to print documents virtually anywhere.

Currently in beta, Cloudprint is a free service aimed at "anyone who needs to share, store and print their documents using a cell phone at any time no matter where they are," according to HP spokesperson Christina Schneider.

To use the service, users must install a virtual print driver on their PC, which adds a Cloudprint printer option. Users enter a cell phone number and print to a "virtual printer," which uploads the document to HP-hosted servers. A six-digit document code is assigned by HP and sent to the mobile device via SMS. Cloudprint users can then access the document or share it with other users by distributing the document code. The service is currently Windows-only. A Macintosh version is in the works, officials said.


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The document can also be "shared" with publicly available printers, letting users get hard copy of their files in a growing number of places in the United States, Canada and Europe. Cloudprint includes a free printer location service based on zip code that will display all public printers within 50 miles.

HP officials said they hope the directory will ultimately include "professional print shops, coffee shops, convenience stores, hotel lobbies and plain old folks who will let you use their printers." Charges for printing services are handled between the end-user and the printer owner, they said.

Providers willing to offer access to their printers are urged to get on the HP directory. The service is the work of HP Labs, which hopes to add Web page rendering and access to users own home and office printers to the Cloudprint repertoire soon. The same group has been busy of late with the beta of an equally innovative online mediascape environmen which serves both context-aware mediascape creators and users with wizards, upload and download tools, a wiki and discussion boards.

"Our labs are committed to ongoing research such as this," Schneider said. "Youll increasingly see more of these kinds of Web-based services available from HP."


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