onsdag 3. februar 2010

HubCast offers cloud printing for professionals

Billing itself as “the only worldwide cloud print service,” HubCast has been around for a few years now. Today the company is announcing the launch of a professional version of their on-demand commercial printing service with some extra bells and whistles.
It’s a little counterintuitive that a commercial printing company would offer anything other than professional services. That said, the features in the new professional version sound cool enough — you can supposedly upload and store an unlimited number of files; your files get verified to ensure they are ready for printing; and you get preferred pricing, in part because printing is done as close to your location as possible. (At least I think that’s what they mean by “live global pricing.”)
A one-year subscription to the professional service costs $95. There is no subscription cost for the standard version.
With the aim “to make placing standard commercial print orders as easy as printing from your desktop,” HubCast is pitched to sales and marketing folks and is primarily geared toward producing collateral such as flyers, brochures, trade show handouts, and the like. The company claims to be able to print much more quickly and at lower cost than traditional printers, while maintaining high quality standards.
Notably, HubCast calling itself a “cloud print service” marks another step in the evolution of cloud computing as a buzzword. Looking back at HubCast.com in 2008 with the help of the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, I don’t see any mention of clouds, although the worldwide on-demand printing services offered then seem substantially the same as what’s available today. Given that HubCast has elements of software as a service, it isn’t incorrect to say that cloud computing is involved — but that’s hardly the only thing going on when your end product is a print job.
In this context, “cloud printing” seems designed to convey that the company is taking care of all the logistics and infrastructure requirements for you. I’d say it’s metaphorical except that cloud computing is already a metaphor to begin with.
Founded in 2005, HubCast is a privately held corporation based in the Boston area, with 65 worldwide locations. HubCast is funded in part by Commonwealth Capital Partners and Ascent Venture Partners. According to their website, they’ve done business with HP, Microsoft, Marketo, Cisco, Cloud 9 Analytics, Firefly, and others.

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