HP to sell Snapfish, insider leaks

Hewlett-Packard Co. may sell Snapfish, its web-based photo sharing and digital printing platform, according to rumors that were leaked last Friday.

According to information acquired by Reuters from an insider, HP has discussed the sale with multiple potential buyers. The company, the source says, considers the service to be “non-core.”

Both industry and private-equity buyers have been considered.

The HP printing and personal business group, under which Snapfish falls, had long been headed by Todd Bradley, until he was replaced by former Lenovo exec Dion Weisler last year.

HP acquired Snapfish in 2005 for more than $300 million. A company spokesperson has declined to comment thus far on the potential sale.

Shifting Services

There have been an increasing number of sales in recent years in which large tech firms (Google, Yahoo and Facebook, for example) buy smaller services or applications.

Shutterfly Inc., which provides similar online publishing services, is also in talks to sell.

News outlets reported earlier this summer that the latter company, founded during the dot-com boom, had hired a firm to negotiate with a seller. The deal will reputedly be finalized in the coming weeks.

Both Snapfish and Shutterfly, as well as similar services, allow users to upload photos and artwork, share the image through social media, and order custom-printed materials—everything from personalized calendars to photo books to mousepads.

Photo prints also start at very low costs from these online printers, an attractive option for users who rarely print photos and have no incentive to invest in photo printers and expensive ink.

Printing for a New World

Digital printing provides its advantages to businesses, as well as consumers.

In advertising and marketing efforts, particularly for small businesses, digital printing has had an impact on the ability to affordably print smaller runs than would have previously been possible.

Traditional commercial printing, also called offset printing, requires the creation of special plates. Inks are then laid in layers to create the desired tones and patterns. This sets price barriers for businesses requiring fewer prints of any given material.

“Digital printing offers a cost-effective solution for consumers needing rapid results,” says Adam Sturm, President of  Apple Visual Graphics. “Apple Visual Graphics specializes in high-quality digital prints, in small runs and commercial volume.  With their offset, wide-format, and digital printers, we can fit a variety of consumer needs – from business cards to business wraps.”

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