E Ink has disclosed at its quarterly earnings teleconference that their revenue in the first 10 months of this year dropped by 1.25% year-on-year and they generated $379 million USD. They mentioned that their revenue will decline in the next two months, even though a number of new e-readers have been released by Bookeen, Pocketbook and Onyx Boox.
E Ink President Johnson Lee stated said they have started shipping colored epaper panels and their new refresh engine to a handful of companies for the construction of new e-readers that will come out in 2020.
Advanced Color E-paper will utterly change the entire e-reader industry. The test sample I saw earlier this year was the technology on a 13.3 inch screen that could display over 32,000 different colors and has a resolution of 1600 x 2500 pixels and 150 PPI. Old E ink Triton color epaper could only display 4,600 colors, so this is a huge step in the right direction.
ACEP achieves a full color gamut, including all eight primary colors, using only colored pigments. The display utilizes a single layer of electrophoretic fluid, which is controlled using voltages compatible with commercial TFT backplanes. The fluid can be incorporated into either microcapsule or Microcup structures. The richness of the colors is achieved by having all the colored pigments in every picture element (pixel) rather than the side-by-side pixel colors achieved with a CFA. This eliminates the light attenuation, which can be quite significant. Like regular E Ink ePaper, ACeP maintains the ultra-low-power and paperlike readability under all lighting conditions.
It will be very interesting to see the first wave of products that use the new color e-paper. I would say Amazon or Kobo stand the best chance to be first to the market, simply because they have large engineering divisions and can afford to take the time to get a product right. How nice would it be to browse the Kindle or Kobo store and have all of the cover art in full and vibrant colors? The GoodReads experience on the Kindle would be superb, you would actually be able to see the avatar photos people use, instead of them just being in black and white. Non-fiction books would benefit from this, you would actually be able to see the insert photos, as they were intended.
Digital note taking devices or E-Notes, could also bring color e-paper to market in a relatively short amount of time. It would be excellent to make notes, freehand draw, edit PDF files and develop CAD documents that are in full color. Teachers could grade tests, using various colors, engineers can develop complex drawings and even artists could be empowered with a full range of colors. Onyx Boox, Sony, Remarkable, Boyue or SuperNote are the most likely culprits to be actively experimenting with the new color panels and refresh technology.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.