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Old 01-19-2007, 04:39 PM   #1
Alexander Turcic
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E-paper industry sceptical about short-term prospects

Sure, a lot of us would love to catch a glimpse of a next-gen e-reader device, but industry insiders caution against expecting anything breathtaking anytime soon. EETimes Europe talked with Jochen Dieckow, new media researcher at publishing industry think tank Ifra, and Simon Jones, VP of product development at Plastic Logic, the producer of flexible e-paper displays who just recently raised $100m to build a manufacturing facility in Germany. They say:
  • possible successors of the iRex iLiad or Sony Reader are still "very much work in progress"
  • an intuitive user interface is still lacking (with reference to the iRex iLiad)
  • consumer confidence still needs to be established
  • don't be hyperactive about the short-term prospects
  • there is a big potential market, but there are no compelling devices
  • e-reader designers need to think "unconventionally"
  • Plastic Logic works closely with (unnamed) partners to design new products
Related: Plastic Logic raises $100 million, Plastic Logic's flexible e-paper may be available in 2008, Cut the hype and get us working e-reader devices!, De Tijd-iLiad e-paper trial - has it been a failure?
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Old 01-20-2007, 12:51 AM   #2
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It is not a matter of consumer confidence. It is a matter of making a reader that can be sold for, say, US$35 for which you can get $5 books by your favourite author.
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Old 01-20-2007, 12:55 AM   #3
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Hmm... USD100M isn't much. Any news on when a large-scale web process will be ready? I can't remember if they were working on inkjet printing of organic conductors and semi-conductors. :/ If PL has to deal with the humidity and thermal problems OLEDs do... Bleh! Cell phones are thrown away after 2-3 years. An e-book can't get away with that kind of life. It will be interesting seeing how paper-like displays evolve over the next decade.
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Old 01-20-2007, 06:20 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jorgen
It is not a matter of consumer confidence. It is a matter of making a reader that can be sold for, say, US$35 for which you can get $5 books by your favourite author.
Agreed 100%. It's not the consumer who must be convinced, but the publishers. It is they who continue hampering growth of the e-book industry.
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Old 01-20-2007, 12:06 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TadW
Agreed 100%. It's not the consumer who must be convinced, but the publishers. It is they who continue hampering growth of the e-book industry.
Agreed and may I add that an ebook universal standard will be required to prevent proprietary format exclusivity price gouging.
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Old 01-21-2007, 10:27 AM   #6
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"Hmm... USD100M isn't much."

True. However, the longterm plan is to put usermanuals and/or setup instructions for consumer items on the box using eInk. When that time come, we might be able to get an eInk reader with memory enough for, say, up to 10 books for a small amount - a reader meant to last months or years depending on how well you treat it.
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Old 01-23-2007, 10:51 AM   #7
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To replace the consumer instructions, e-paper must be cost competitive. An e-book is one application supporting the highest cost, thus the number of old, current and, new products out there. The less the e-book costs, the less consumers will fret over its operating life. E-paper applications have to save someone money before the technologies are widely adopted.

Until e-paper is made roll-to-roll, it will only hold a niche market and will be forced to compete directly with inflexible versions of LCDs and OLEDs. In my mind, electro-phoretic displays need to be nearly as cheep as paper if e-Ink can't get full color and fast response time.

If Plastic Logic succeeds in making stable, roll-to-roll TFT or diode substrates, I suspect a number of asian companies would line up for licenses, or contribute to a joint venture.
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