What's Next For Electronic Paper Display Technologies? E Ink's Sriram Peruvemba on how he expects the e-reader market to advance.
According to recent studies, big things are on the horizon for e-readers in terms of growth and revenue. A recent mediaIDEAS report forecasted that 6 million e-paper display-based e-readers will be sold in 2010—nearly six times the number (1.1 million) sold in 2008. By 2020, the report predicts global annual e-reader sales will reach 446 million units with a value of more than $25 billion. Another study, by research company DisplaySearch, says that e-paper display revenues will reach $9.6 billion by 2018.
Shedding more light on the market is Sriram Peruvemba, vice president of marketing for E Ink Corp., the Cambridge, Mass.-based supplier of electronic paper display (EPD) technologies. Peruvemba gave a presentation Oct. 29, during Book Business’ Publishing Business Virtual Conference & Expo: Digital Content Day @ Your Desk. During the virtual show, which may be accessed on demand until Feb. 2, Peruvemba e-chatted with attendees about EPD, and the insight his company has gained as the provider of high-resolution displays for many e-reading devices, including the Amazon Kindle and the Sony Reader.
Here, Peruvemba speaks to Book Business Extra about what publishers and readers can expect from the next wave of e-reader technologies.
Book Business Extra: You mentioned during the virtual conference that full color displays should be available on e-readers by Q4 2010. Is E Ink working on other emerging technologies?
Sriram Peruvemba: Yes, full-color E Ink Vizplex-based displays are expected to be in production by end of next year. We will work on other emerging technologies, including faster update to support animation and video, improved monochrome technologies and flexible displays. …
Extra: Why will video be an important capability for e-readers? How can book publishers take advantage of this?
Peruvemba: … The real need for video … [is] in the area of e-textbooks, where the current two-dimensional images can be animated, and they can teach the subject or topic better than still pictures. ... Publishers could create content to take advantage of . … Images can come alive with E Ink Vizplex, providing some of the same experiences you have on the Internet. Combine that with audio (already available, but not display-related), and you have now brought the traditional TV, Internet and radio-type experience into a book or newspaper.
Extra: Why is contrast a challenge for e-readers? What improvements can be expected in the future?
Peruvemba: Our displays have better contrast compared to [an] ordinary newspaper. But the contrast is lower than, say, a glossy magazine printed on a high-quality paper, using [a] high-grade printer. We are constantly improving the contrast of the display to make it better. Each version of our product has seen improvements in the EO [electro optics].
Extra: One criticism of e-readers is that they are single-function devices. Do you expect e-readers to become multifunctional in the future?
Peruvemba: … [A multifunctional device] has been talked about, but has only happened in a limited sense (e-book applications on smartphones, for example). There are industry folks that believe that electronic books will be read on a multipurpose device, and that this device will be invented in the near future. I agree that there are likely to be multipurpose devices in the future. But they will not be able to cater to the the needs of the serious reader the same way that a dedicated device can. Also, in [the] case of e-textbooks, do we want our children to have a phone and music and games available on a device meant for them to read their school textbooks?
Extra: Are you expecting an "iPod moment" for e-readers?
Peruvemba: … Three things will enable even higher growth: availability of [a variety] content; [ease of] access to content; and price of [both the] content [and] device.