HP goes web 2.0, buys Tabblo

Now this is one Web 2.0 acquisition that makes sense! Hewlett-Packard has acquired Tabblo, Massachusetts-based company that makes it easier for consumers to upload and printing their photos from the web. Think of Tabblo as iPhoto rest of us – allowing folks to print their photos as calendars or albums, layered with all sorts of social web features.

It was only in May 2006, I was introduced to Tabblo founder Antonio Rodriguez by Jason Shellen, formerly of Blogger/Pyra Labs and then with Google. Ten months later his start=up has been acquired for undisclosed amount of money. Why did that happen? They made a tool that incorporated the best of social web and built a layer of usefulness on top of that. And focused their product on mainstream users, with one simple message: make your photo printing cool and chic.

It makes perfect sense for HP to acquire them because first, it gives a good strategic fit with printer business, the bread (if not the butter) for the computer maker. Secondly, HP owns Snapfish.com, another photo site, which could use some of Tabblo’s sensibilities, and can also get more people printing their photos.

HP is a bit more ambitious with this deal, and it seems, wants to get into the on-demand printing business. There are quite a few start-ups in this space, that should be worried. I mean seriously worried. A spokesperson emailed us with this information:

HP’s plans are to bring the technologies developed by Tabblo in-house, and use them to make it easier for customers to seamlessly manipulate, format and print the Web-based content that’s important to them in the real world. Fundamentally, Tabblo’s server-based technology makes arranging and printing text, graphics and photos from the Web easy and compelling. Tabblo uses a custom template engine, utilizing an AJAX-enriched interface, to manipulate and reformat Web content for easy printing.

While today Tabblo has been focused on using its publishing technology in the photography arena, HP plans to repurpose this technology asset with its partners to enable printing for all types of content across the Web. This goes beyond photo printing to include Web content of many kinds, including personalized maps, travel guides, books and posters to auto shopping guides and social networks, etc.