Xerox’s Region-Coded Toner Cartridges

business_ethics_highlights_2Making a product isn’t just a matter of design and engineering. It also involves creating a business model—a who-pays-whom-for-what flowchart specifying what the customer gets and on what basis the customer pays for it. Business models can make or break the customer value proposition, as well as the realization of profits by the firm. An under-explored region of business ethics is business model ethics. Are there ethical principles governing the selection or rejection of business models? This piece from Techdirt offers an interesting case to motivate a discussion of business model ethics. Xerox’s printer and toner business model takes a page right out of the Hollywood playbook: region-coded DVDs, meet region-coded toner cartridges. >>>

LINK: Your Toner Is No Good Here: Region-Coding Ink Cartridges…For The Customers (by Tim Cushing in Techdirt)

So, it appears that if you attempt to forcefeed a Xerox printer not-from-around-here ink, it will potentially brick the device. At that point, you’re forced to ask for a Xerox rep to drop by and unlock your purchased printer for you. Here’s another confirmation of Xerox’s “locals only” ink limitations.

‘As I live in the UK my ink blocks are for the European market. If I purchase from ebay, ink blocks for the USA or Asian market and insert them into my printer, the printer will stop with a contact your engineer code on the LCD. The printer is now unusable.’

The rate charged to the person in the forum post quoted above was $596/hour. There’s no missing decimal point there. Sure, it’s only 10 minutes of work, but it’s $60 being shelled out by a paying customer just so his printer will go back to printing. The only thing actually “broken” is Xerox’s business model.

What do you think?

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