E Ink: iPad

The iPad should actually be beneficial for E Ink, Prime View International executive VP TH Peng claimed in a new interview. He notes that the sheer run-up in publicity ahead of Apple's e-reader launch will draw attention to e-books as a whole. It could not only spark sales but lure in publishers that might not have otherwise published digital copies.

"We already have companies like Amazon and Barnes & Noble and Sony who are endorsing digital publishing, and now we have another very good company called Apple. So generally this is very good for us," Peng told Xconomy. "Yes, we do see some potential competition, but we believe the positives resulting from the iPad are a lot more beneficial. So we actually welcome the iPad -- we think it’s going to be a joint force with us in creating a stronger digital publishing industry."

At the same time, the VP was critical of Apple's decision to treat an LCD-based tablet as an e-reader. Peng noted that LCD readers have "never been quite successful," as they aren't as comfortable to look at. He cited the example of long e-mail messages, which he prefers to print out instead of reading on screen.

The iPad is better for gaming and video, he acknowledged.

As part of the discussion, Peng confirmed his company's plans to produce color E Ink displays and expected to have these available by either the end of 2010 or early 2011. These should partly close the gap, he said. While the color isn't as vivid as an LCD or glossy magazine, the ability to go without a backlight or even constant power should make it a better experience.

Within about two years, PVI hopes to have "very good" color. The initial wave of technology should be an improvement on what newspapers usually offer.

Peng also touched on the chronic shortages that have affected current grayscale e-readers and expected that production would triple this year versus 2009. A sustained surge of interest is often believed to have led to Kindle shortages; similar delays helped push the Barnes & Noble Nook's widespread availability to February, months after it was made public.


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