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Old 12-21-2005, 08:25 PM   #1
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Xerox pulls the plug on e-paper

Xerox has announced that effective December 31, 2005, Gyricon LCC, a spinoff of Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), will terminate operations. From the Gyricon LLC website:

Effective Dec. 31, 2005, Xerox Corporation will terminate the operations of its wholly owned subsidiary, Gyricon LLC and will refocus its efforts in electronic paper technology through licensing of the underlying intellectual property.

Xerox will maintain ownership of all electronic paper intellectual property developed by Gyricon or Xerox and is currently working on related projects in re-imagable paper.


Gyricon produced and marketed a line of SyncroSign message boards utilizing their SmartPaper technology. According to this article, Gyricon officials had previous predicted that the company could reach annual revenues of $100 Million while employing 500.

This news comes just as new products like the iRex Iliad, which utilizes the competing E-Ink technology, are about to come to market.

Source

Related: SyncroSign's Messenger gets wireless e-paper, iRex next-gen e-book reader based on e Ink
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Old 12-21-2005, 08:33 PM   #2
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Seems like a mix of good and bad news for the consumer. On the good side, maybe it has to do with the lead gained by other researchers. On the bad side, however, I guess whether it's hard to develop e-paper or whether the subsidiary just wasn't performing well, it all points to limited competition in that arena in the near future. If Xerox can't make it work profitably, how many competitors will there be?

...so I guess we're all very big Phillips/iRex fans now!
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Old 12-21-2005, 08:53 PM   #3
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I wonder how much the demise of Gyricon has to do with a poor business model, choice of markets, and bad timing.

IMHO, I think the SyncroSign was a solution (or cost-prohibitive one) to a non-existent problem, and the wrong product to showcase the technology. Will advertisers spend their dollars on an as-of-yet unproven technology?

On the other hand, I think Philips with iRex and their Iliad (and hopefully other products) is a better showcase for the technology, and unlike Gryicon, they will be providing a solution to more than one problem.
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Old 12-22-2005, 11:49 AM   #4
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Well, Xerox does not exactly have a stellar history of turning research projects into marketable products in the last 3 decades.

I predict some exec plans to sit back, watch the e-ink market unfold, then pounce on the competitors with patent lawsuits to get a piece of the action. It's easier than trying to build a market of your own. Particularly with this statement: "Xerox will maintain ownership of all electronic paper intellectual property developed by Gyricon or Xerox..."

I suspect it's mostly a matter of timing. Building markets for seriously new stuff takes time, and patience appears to be seriously lacking in the business environment today. Most overnight success stories have one to two decades of serious r&d behind them.
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