Mobile printing services firm Cortado has founded the Cloud Printing Alliance, an umbrella organisation for printer manufacturers and hotspot providers which aims to bring mobile 'cloud' printing to roaming workers.
The first members of the Alliance – announced at CeBit yesterday afternoon – are the printer makers Brother, Dell, Funkwerk, Konica Minolta, Kyocera Mita and Oki.
The intention is to provide mobile workers with the facility to print documents from any nearby printer connected to a wi-fi or Bluetooth network.
Business travelers will increasingly expect 'printing as a service' from venues such as airports, hotels, convention centres, according to analysts from Pierre Audoin Consutlants.
"I may need to read an urgent attachment but reading it on a small Blackberry or iPhone screen may not be a comfortable experience," Frank Hoffman, Cortado director of strategic relationships, explained to Computing. "So I may want to print it out before I get back to my office."
The Alliance is encouraging hotspot providers to list available printers on its website. As this list builds, mobile workers will be able to locate their nearest printer from the website.
"Meanwhile they can rely on the printer at the hotel they are staying at or the conference centre they are visiting," said Hoffman.
Cortado, a division of ThinPrint, is contributing to the Alliance its Workplace cloud printing software which boasts 100,000 worldwide customers.
The service works with any networked printer and doesn't need Cortado's software installed on the network or printer only on the mobile device.
The basic service includes 2Gb of storage and is free, funded by a premium service which charges for further storage and facilities such as fax transmission and receipt.
HP provides a similar cloud printing service for its latest cloud-enabled printers. Although Cortado's software will work with HP printers, Hoffman doubted HP would be joining the Alliance.