The increasing use of smart mobile devices by today's highly mobile workplace means that corporate information, applications and services need to be accessible at all times - from multiple devices and locations. Hand in hand with this requirement comes the need for simpler, more straightforward mobile printing with reliable security.
Research released earlier this year by Quocirca, a primary research and analysis company specialising in the business impact of ITC, revealed that more than half of its respondents indicated that printing is critical – or at least very important – to their business activities. It also highlighted that the demand for mobile printing has continued to increase since its 2012 mobile printing study, with an almost 10% growth in organisations that have deployed mobile printing, from 5% to 14%.
"Most interestingly, 35% of the study's respondents stated that they were planning to implement mobile printing within the next 12 months. In fact, in total, 73% showed an interest in mobile printing," says Greg Griffith, product manager: business solutions at Konica Minolta South Africa, a division of Bidvest Office (Pty) Ltd.
In its report entitled "Global Mobile/ Portable Printers Market Forecast and Opportunities, 2020", TechSci Research projected that the global market for mobile/portable printers would surpass USD13 billion by 2020, fuelled by the growing trend towards cloud printing, mobile workforce and field sales. It also stated that between 2015 and 2020, the retail industry would continue to be the largest end-user of mobile/ portable printers, followed by the transportation and hospitality sectors.
To meet mobile users' expectations, Konica Minolta has expanded its wireless capabilities with four new wireless printing solutions: AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, Android Printing Framework and Mopria Print Service. With the support of Near Field Communication (NFC), mobile printing is even faster: users can print by tapping their mobile terminal on the Konica Minolta printing system.
"It's clear that most employees no longer need to be office-bound every day, but can frequently work from a location of their choice," Griffith explains. "And to meet the demands of the increasing mobile workforce, professional cloud and mobile printing applications should provide reliable secure printing, flexible job submission and support a choice of mobile devices as part of an organisation's bring your own device (BYOD) policy. With AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, Konica Minolta Print Service and Mopria Print Service, Konica Minolta can meet these requirements exactly."
Konica Minolta bizhub devices are AirPrint certified, so that customers can print high-quality images and documents directly from applications without the need to install separate drivers. AirPrint is an Apple technology that is built into iOS devices such as Apple's iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, as well as OS X devices such as the iMac and Macbook Pro.
Provided by Google, Google Cloud Print (GCP) allows users to print to a Google account registered printer, using a network-compatible device without installing the printer driver on the device. It is also possible to share printers with other employees. GCP is supported by iOS, Android OS, Windows, and Mac OS.
The Konica Minolta Print Service – based on the Android Printing Framework – is a plug-in that does not appear as an app on the device. Android users (with OS 4.4 KitKat or later) can print to many Konica Minolta devices, without the need for third party apps or additional print drivers.
Mopria, an alliance between main mobile and printer providers, developed the Mopria Print Service plug-in, which lets consumers print directly from devices running Android 4.4 or later. Documents such as photographs, web pages and PDF files can be printed easily via wireless network to Mopria-certified output devices.
For environments without wireless networks, Konica Minolta's multifunction printer can act as a wireless Access Point Mode, delivering a wireless network that is separated from the company network, ensuring full security. Another possibility is to activate WiFi Direct on the printing system, for an instantaneous pairing with the mobile terminal. Near field communication (NFC) also allow the output device and mobile terminal to be easily connected for direct printing, without the concern of printer registration or network set up.
"Using these mobile printing technologies from a Konica Minolta multifunctional device will allow clients to print from their mobile terminal directly, without having to use an external app or printer driver," Griffith adds. "This brings a greater flexibility to clients and broadens the horizons of their daily business."