Prime View International (PVI) signed an agreement to acquire eInk Corporation (producer of electrophoretic used in Amazon Kindle and Sony PRS eReaders) for $215,000,000. PVI has been consolidating eInk related assets for quite some time, starting with acquision of ePaper business from Philips in 2005. In 2008 PVI acquired Hydis technologies, a company that produces elements for eInk screens.
Most analysts agree that this will eventually lead to cheaper eInk displays available to device manufacturers like Sony and Amazon. However eInk CEO Russ Wilcox told Forbes in an interview that integrating two companies will take time so there will be no immediate price drop.
Well, it’s good news for us consumers…
Full press release can be found here.
Electrophoretic displays or EPD is the superb paper-like technology used in the Kindle and Sony Reader, it is often referred to as e-ink. Prime View International (PVI) is the company behind the production of many e-ink screens, they supply Amazon with e-ink screens for the Kindle. PVI chairman Scott Liu believes that the EPD market is set “to grow 10 times over the next three years”.
PVI president Ys Fu said clients’ shipping schedules for EPDs remain unaffected by the sluggishness hitting the small- to medium-size panel market.
PVI chairman Scott Liu said the EPD market will double in 2009 and staggering growth is expected to continue through the next three years. Foreseeing insufficient capacity to meet the strong demand for EPDs, PVI last year determined that it was necessary to acquire Korea’s BOE Hydis, which PVI has now officially taken over and renamed Hydis Technologies, Liu said.
PVI is still the only major supplier for e-ink displays in the world, and it did have a decline in panel sales, so declining panel sales don’t seem to agree with PVI chairman Scott Liu’s prediction that the EPD market will double in 2009. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that e-book reader sales are going down, we dont know what proportion of PVI’s sales are devoted to e-book readers, so a decline in sales by 33% doesnt tell us anything e-book reader growth. The economy also isnt in the best of shapes, so this might also be contributing to the decline in sales.
Have you ever wished that you could use a stylus to write notes on a page or use your fingers to turn the virtual page on your Kindle? well your wish might be about to come true, the company which supplies Amazon with its Kindle EInk displays, PVI (Prime View International), has partnered with a company called F-Origin (of which it owns a 20 percent stake) to incorporate zTouch, a proprietary touch screen technology, into EInk display panels.
From the F-Origin press release:
The functionality and flexibility in design provided by zTouch is the perfect solution for ebooks and other products that utilize PVI’s ePaper displays. zTouch enables users to control book navigation and numerous management functions, such as turning pages, making selections or simply making edits or comments via touch and through gestures and hand writing recognition. The ease of use and high-functionality of zTouch are an ideal match for eBooks by PVI.
From the separate PVI press release:
When a user touches the display, proprietary software calculates the location and intensity of the touch with input from the sensors. There is no additional layer of materials on top of the display as there is in traditional touch technologies; as such, there is no impact to the reflective qualities of the display. This technology requires no ITO (the most fragile component in traditional touch panels), hence exhibits superior robustness. Unlike capacitive touch panels which requires the touch medium be conductive (such as a finger), this force sensing technology works with either stylus or fingers
You can read the full accompanying press release from PVI’s perspective on their website and you can read up on the zTouch 3.0 Technology [PDF warning] with this product information guide provided by F-Origin.
What does this mean? will the next Kindle offer a touch screen interface as standard? The Kindle isn’t mentioned by name by either PVI or F-Origin in the press releases, but its hard to see this technology not making it onto any future incarnation of the Kindle. These certainly are interesting developments and would strongly suggest that Amazon is working on a Kindle v2.