The “X Factor” and Everything Apps

By Elizabeth Gooding / Published:

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

I admit that when I heard that Elon Musk was changing the name of Twitter to X my first thought was that he had truly lost his mind. I dug into it a bit and found that there was actually more to the strategy than his love of the letter X (SpaceX, Model X, and even a child named X.) While it appears to be more of an aspirational vision than a strategy, Musk talks about turning Twitter, or X into an “everything app” that consolidates multiple services, including financial ones. This reminded me of his roots with PayPal (formerly which put him on the winding road to be one of the richest men in the world. The Washington Post recently took a deep dive into this topic with “Why Rebrand Twitter ‘X’? Elon Musk’s ‘Everything App’ Explained.” The article, which offers analysis from Aisha Counts and Vlad Savov of Bloomberg, notes a scarcity of concrete plans adding: “The evidence suggests that Musk’s push to rebrand was an impromptu decision over the weekend of July 22, with the new logo being the product of a 24-hour crowdsourcing effort among Musk’s Twitter followers.

When you have billions to spare, I guess you can wake up one morning and decide that your company can do “everything.” Most of us in the printing world need a more measured and strategic approach. Inkjet is capable of supporting many more applications every year and OEMs and their customers have to decide which ones make sense for their business. Mimaki’s president and CEO, Kazuaki Ikeda, spoke with Nessan Cleary about the company’s strategy for expanding their reach including a new inkset for textile printing and an approach to circular recycling that enables reuse of printed polyester. The company has a strategic plan covering several additional markets, including 3D printing for automotive applications, that carefully considers technology development curves, as well as marketing partnerships.

Musk is not the only one embracing the X though. When Canon upgraded their sheetfed inkjet lineup in 2020, they added an X to the mix. David Zwang took a look at Canon’s cutsheet evolution from the VarioPrint i300 in 2015 and the i200 in 2017 to the most recent varioPRINT iX3200 and varioPRINT iX2100. As The Guardian reported, tech and media companies love the X factor in their branding. (They also love weird mixes of upper and lower case that make editors nuts – or maybe it’s just me.)

Can inkjet become the “everything process?”

While it’s not clear that people want an “everything app” for their phone (think eggs and baskets) the printing industry benefits when inkjet is able to do more. There’s more to getting inkjet established in new markets than just getting it to print to industry targets on new substrates, it needs to make sense as part of the overall process. For example, the fact that inkjet can enable companies to cost-effectively print in small batches or personalize output can’t be monetized if a company doesn’t have a way to take in business that way. Surrounding software and workflow solutions have to happen in step with hardware. Pat McGrew sometimes talks about the evolution of web2print solutions that enable new business as “web2anything” but it takes a lot of work to make customer-facing order systems work with different types of business. Check out “It’s time for web-to-pack enabled by inkjet” where she digs into the co-dependent (in a good way) relationship of inkjet and software driving packaging excellence.

While the pace of inkjet press launches has slowed, announcements of new or improved supporting technology has accelerated. New heads, ink, firmware, electronics and more are frequently in the news. These sometimes make their way into commercially available presses, but may also come to market as print bars or components of bespoke solutions. Are you developing new inkjet technology or inkjet components? Help us expand our coverage of the inkjet development community by sharing information about your company and your interests through our 2 minute survey  Also stay tuned for news of our upcoming Inkjet Shopping Guide webinars for Industrial, Production, Textile and Packaging starting in September. We will kick off the line up with “Innovations in Industrial Inkjet” with Mark Bale (and me!). Learn more and register here.

Inkjet may not be the everything process yet, but since X is a variable and inkjet is all about that variable print, we can say that inkjet has the X Factor.



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About the Author

Elizabeth Gooding


Elizabeth is the Editor and Co-founder of Inkjet Insight. She has a rare ability to see print related issues from many perspectives. She has managed creative teams on complex design projects, selected outsourcers for major brands and helped print organizations to retool operations, focus their market positioning and educate sales teams to accelerate growth. She works with a team of top analysts to translate experiences into tools, data and content to help print organizations evaluate the potential of inkjet, optimize their operations and grow pages profitably. She is a founding member of the Inkjet Summit advisory board, the co-author of an award-winning book on designing for inkjet and a curious consultant constantly seeking innovative ways to drive new pages onto inkjet presses.

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