As highlighted today on their website, Amazon announced the Kindle as the "#1 Bestselling, #1 Most Wished For, and #1 Most Gifted Product on Amazon". After all, it looks like PVI made an ingenious move earlier this year when it acquired E-Ink. More amazingly the market planners at Amazon did a much better job in anticipating the consumer wants this year with both devices still available for immediate shipping, capacity hasn’t seemed to limit sales so far.
Insight Media Analyst
While there is no definitive answer on the websites of Sony and Foxit, there were earlier rumors of supply shortages and shipping delays with both devices. Sony announced shipment of the larger Daily Edition with the preorders shipping December 18 thru January 8.
All of these hints are making for a very strong sales prediction of EBRs this holiday season. Let’s also look at some other players in the EBR and e-paper field.
Today, a new company was announced called Skiff. While in stealth mode, it was known as FirstPaper, a company incubated by Hearst Corporation. With its debut, it announced that they will deliver electronic content on their e-reading service platform in 2010. While the service will provide content to electronic book readers as well as computers and Smartphones. They also announced partnerships with Marvell for developing a ’system on the chip’ for e-reading and Sprint for the distribution through their 3G network. It seems that they will also bring advertising through their delivery system to all readers. This is really more about bringing the EBR into the established advertising paradigm on PCs and SmartPhones.
Spring Design’s motion for preliminary injunction against Barnes and Noble for selling the Nook was denied, but the hearings for the filed law suite will give Spring Design another chance to get their voice heard in front of a judge. This first significant legal action in the young field of EBRs shows that it has become a full member of US businesses and as such a valid target for IP law suits.
Fujitsu is currently showing the next generation of their 8" full color XGA reader device in Taiwan at an event called IT Month 2009. It is expected that Fujitsu will offer the reader in Taiwan starting in 2010. This could be a sign that they feel ready to bring it to the rest of the world soon thereafter. With other suppliers announcing color EBRs for the second half of 2010, the clock is ticking and they are in a good position to be the first to launch and to establish the price level for color EBRs. Somehow I don’t believe that the current $1,000 range for their reader is realistic for the rest of the world already complaining that $250 for a 6" black and white reader is too much. With many more companies joining in the fun, we have to expect significant pressure on the sales price for these devices.
A really interesting new player will be arriving later in 2010 with Qualcomm announcing a 5.7" XGA color display based on their Mirasol technology. Privately previewed to Insight Media at the Green Display Expo in October, and reported by many websites in November 2009, Qualcomm is seeking an OEM to bring it to market. The real question of course will be pricing. We suspect a range from $400 - $800 might be a good guess for these first color devices. The consumer will then have to decide which technology offers him the best bang for the buck.
The other major manufacturer of low-power, paper-like displays in the USA is Kent Displays. While the full plastic-based Fujitsu displays are manufactured based on a Kent license, Kent itself has developed a tablet-like device for taking notes as shown below. During his presentation at the Green Display Expo 2009, Joel Domino showed first products from their R2R manufacturing line in Kent, OH. The image shown demonstrates the functionality of the device as a tablet for note taking. While currently there is no read out or memory capability included, they are working on adding this functionality to future versions of this high-tech Etch A Sketch. They calculate that this device, if used by all US pupils during 12 years of school, could save over 350,000 trees from becoming paper pads.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this product is that it is built by cutting edge technology on a R2R manufacturing line in the US. While they are currently delivering thousands per month, they are looking at hundreds of thousand per month some time in 2010. They will be selling this notepad directly and through partners to the consumer for under $30 via the Internet, and the first customer buying from them is actually located in China. All these ships transporting goods into the US finally have something to take back on their trip. How is that for a change?