E-Paper industry experts in Europe have told Good e-Reader that Freescale is dialing back on e-ink support. The semi-conductor company is said to only provide direct support to only two different companies, Netronix and Yitoa.
In December of 2015 NXP closed its nearly $12 billion deal to acquire Freescale. The deal bolsters NXP’s position in other fast-growing chip markets, including wearable devices and health monitors, for example, while capitalizing on the company’s strengths in security and payments. It also allowed NXP to become the world’s top maker of automotive electronics.
It is apparent that NXP is not very bullish on the e-paper market. In 2014 over 12 million dedicated e-ink devices were sold, which is a far cry from 20 million units in 2011. e-Reader sales for the most part have been trending downwards and E-Ink has reported consistent quarterly loses over the last two years.
Last year, Freescale unveiled a brand new dual-core processor that will primarily just be used in e-Readers. It looks like the company will now only be directly supporting only two manufactures in China and Taiwan. This may lead future companies to employ lower cost Chinese processors and stifle new entrants to the market.
Freescale’s new mandate to focus on direct support to Netronix might be strategic. In August 2015 E-Ink directly partnered with their main hardware vendor (Netronix) to form a new venture between the two companies. Their new business is called NTX Electronics Yangzhou Co. It is based in the economic and technology development zone in Yangzhou in China’s Jiangsu Province. The two companies are betting that anyone looking for a a one-stop total solution for e-readers, smart watches, smartphones and digital signage will do business with them.
Netronix may might be a household name but they are responsible for designing and manufacturing every single Kobo e-reader over the last five years and the new Nook Glowlight +. They also develop internally stock e-readers that showcase their technologies and often offer white-label solutions to Chinese, European and Russian tech companies for resale.
This new partnership will change the landscape of e-readers, digital signage and e-paper screens. E Ink is mainly a RND company and Netronix knows supply chains, logistics and manufacturing. This really means that anyone who wants to get something made using e Ink technology they don’t have to get pawned off to someone else anymore. E Ink and Netronix will handle everything.
I bet Freescale is only supporting Nettronix and Yitoa because they are the last two major manufactures left standing. It simply wasn’t economically feasible anymore to help the smaller companies and NXP likely just sees it as a vertical that simply just under-performing.
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.