The Future of Print
THIS ARTICLE will attempt to use the past, as well as the present, to get a clear look at the future of the printing industry. Predicting the future, however, is a slippery slope. Here are some of my favorite predictions, just so I can feel I’m in good company.
“This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.”
—Western Union memo, 1876 (By the way, after 145 years, Western Union, has finally gotten out of the telegram business.)
“The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?”
—RCA Founder David Sarnoff’s associate’s response to his request for investment in the commercialization of radio in 1920.
“32 bits should be enough address space for Internet”
—Vint Cerf, “Father of the Internet,” in 1977 (He’s now vice president and chief Internet evangelist for Google)
“640K ought to be enough for anybody.”
—Bill Gates, 1981
How Predictions Become Reality
A long time ago, Jules Verne wrote a story about sending people to the moon by blasting them out of a giant cannon. That story inspired a host of rocketry pioneers who pondered how to make such a journey a reality. Based on the science of their day, they created visions of how to achieve such a feat, using rockets instead of cannons. When all the conditions were right, these visions evolved into reality.
In 2001, the Digital Printing Council noted: “The use of direct mail will significantly increase over the next few years.”
In its 2005 annual report, the USPS revealed that Standard Mail (bulk advertising mail, formerly known as third-class mail) fluctuated slightly in volume from 2001-2003, but jumped substantially in both 2004 and 2005, growing by about 5.6 percent each of those years. If the trend continues at a steady rate for the next two years, the total will be at 125 percent of 2003 levels. That’s pretty significant.
Vic Nathan Barkin has more than 35 years of experience in the printing, paper and wood products industries and currently owns a consulting practice specializing in business development, workflow, and technology implementation, focusing on “Green Procurement and Production” practices. Vic is a QMS Lead Auditor certified to ISO 9001:2008 standards, is a consultant for the Rainforest Alliance as an FSC Chain of Custody and Controlled Wood senior auditor, is an FSC, SFI and PEFC lead auditor for PricewaterhouseCoopers and SGS North America, and has engaged in more than 700 site assessments and audits.