Saturday, October 24, 2009

eInk and Chips

Today the cost of eInk devices is still high and although it is falling the drop is not sufficient to engage mass adoption. The devices are gaining consumer visibility, however when we look hard at them they clearly lack that iPod , Walkman iconic moment a point not lost on the consumer. The true tipping point toward eInk and the myriad of ‘lookie likie’ devices is becoming less likely as we see hybrid devices that combine two screens, the emergence of the Google online model and the emergence of better screen quality and applications on mobiles. This is nothing to do with ebooks it is to do with the devices or how we expect consumers to read them.

This week E Ink Corp., the prime developer of the greyscale "electronic paper" technology used in the majority of the current eBooks and Freescale Semiconductor, the Austin-Texas-based provider of eBook processors and have announced that they are collaborating. The objective is to develop a chip solution which integrates Freescale's i.MX processor technology with E Ink's Vizplex display controller.

Why this is important is that it starts to shift the economics of much of the technology into mass production and creates a standard base that can both lower cost of units and facilitate further innovation re tablet, laptop notebook PCs. However, the question is still whether eInk is a long term solution or a short term fix. Will technologies such as OLED overtake it? Will it ever produce acceptable levels of colour? Will the current crop of eReaders be sitting in landfill sites in 5 years time?

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