As the writer Gene Fowler more or less said, "Writing is easy. You just sit in front of the keyboard until little drops of blood appear on your forehead." For those of us who sometimes write on deadline, that thought can feel painfully familiar. But there are days like today, when there is so much to write about that it seems impossible to choose just one. So I won’t - choose, that is. Here are quick bites of several interesting stories that have appeared in the last week.
Senior Analyst and Editor
Google finally lives up to its "Don’t be evil" motto. Google decided to shut down its Chinese server rather than continue to censor it. It did redirect users to its Hong Kong server. Although Hong Kong is part of China, Hong Kong is allowed to maintain more liberal policies. Chinese officials seem to realize that the Google withdrawal will stimulate some discontent among China’s business and technical elites, and Google may have figured that retreating to the Hong Kong server might be a way of letting Chinese officials save face while letting Google effectively stay in business China. It looks like access to the new server is already being restricted, though, and various deals Google thought it had with Chinese companies are melting like a spring snow. Motorola has already replaced Google Search with Microsoft’s BING on Android phones headed for the Chinese market.
AUO to start volume production of OLEDs in 2011. AUO sat on the sidelines for a couple of years while Samsung, Chi Mei and LG Display (and Sony in its own strange way) developed AMOLED programs and products. AUO said it was waiting until it could convince itself that a viable business could be built around AMOLED display manufacturing and products. Last year, AUO answered its question and jumped back in. Earlier this week, industry sources said AUO will begin installing equipment for an OLED production line in Q3′10 and will begin volume production in 2011. These will be small and medium-sized displays for use in mobile handsets and other hand-held devices. The OLED line will built around an existing, but unused, LTPS LCD line. The existence of this line is fortunate for AUO since LTPS backplanes are what’s currently being used for AMOLED displays.
Corning says… As we’ve said before, if you want to cut through the confusion of competing announcements from individual panel makers, talk to their suppliers. There’s been a lot of talk about building new LCD lines in mainland China, but it’s hard to pin down which deals are realistic and when they might actually come on line. Nobody makes LCD panels without glass, of course, and Corning makes about 60% of the world’s display glass. So what Corning says and does often brings clarity to such situations. And Corning is negotiating with customers and the Chinese government over a plan to build glass melting tanks in China. The company expects its plan to be finalized this year. Corning expects glass demand to increase by 14% to 22% (to between 2.8B and 3.0B square feet) this year.
The EBR explosion. Worldwide eBook reader (EBR) shipments are expected to rise to 28M units in 2013 from 700k units in 2008, according to Digitimes Research. That’s a staggering CAGR of 386%! Even if you adopt a different definition of what an EBR is going to look like late this year or next, there’s no question growth rates will be very high. As is well known, Amazon and Sony dominated the global market in 2009, but lots of other players are jumping in now, or soon will be, including Samsung and LG, as Aldo Cugnini reported in Monday’s DD. There are lots of Taiwanese and mainland Chinese players involved, too, and China is promoting e-reading as an important policy. Digitimes Research expects China to become the second largest market for EBRs in 2010.
We’ve just come full circle. Is there a contradiction between China’s sincere promotion of e-reading (and the teaching of English) and its censoring of what is read? In the West, it’s an article of faith that economic and business effectiveness, as well as the blossoming of the human spirit, depends on free access to information and free expression. Lots of Chinese people believe that, too. But there’s lots of technical information that is politically neutral. China can promote e-reading and access to a walled Chinese garden of sanitized websites, and may find it takes quite a while before the contradictions rise up and make themselves felt. By that time, the Chinese may have restricted access to information over one of the best Internet backbones in the world, while the U.S. will have unrestricted access over an increasingly antiquated backbone - unless we in the U.S. get our act together.