Why LG Will Continue to Invest in the E-paper Front


Just when we thought the tablet-versus-e-reader argument was dead in the water, along comes another development that makes one realize there’s life in the old dog yet. LG has revealed its grandiose plans on the e-paper front–and it’s a more than clever move, given that rival Samsung gave up the chase on the e-paper front a couple of days back.

An SEC filing from LG reveals that the firm is continuing to break new ground with e-paper technology, moving forward with plans for both color and flexible models that will work with both e-readers and tablets. Let’s not forget that LG is the maker of both the iPad‘s 9.7-inch IPS LCD screen, as well as the Kindle‘s e-paper display.

Although it is generally agreed that last man standing in the dogfight I alluded to in the first paragraph will be the tablet (barring a last-minute smackdown from the Cylons, that is) one cannot deny the e-Reader’s tenacity. Cheaper and hardier than a tablet, the e-Reader wins on price, battery life, is flogging digital literature like never before, as well as besting traditional bookworms’ read rates.

Although the rumors of a more-than-monochrome Kindle have been circulating since as far back as 2009–and our very own Chris Dannen has been ululating loudly outside Amazon HQ for a technicolor version–the versatile iPad’s arrival makes it somewhat redundant. Jeff Bezos has admitted that there is a color Kindle in the works, but refuses to be drawn on when the consumer will see it. However, with color e-ink providing more of a drain on the power bars than its black-and-white counterpart, there seems less of a reason to bring it in–after all, one of the best things about the Kindle is its amazing battery life.

But will we see a 19-inch version of the e-Reader? After all, the much lusted-after, large-sized Que was finally given the push last month by executives at Plastic Logic. Chances are, they’ll be unwieldy things and, as newspaper executives search for ways to shrink their products down into a more manageable size, the broadsheet reading man on the train will become a thing of the past–page turning button or no page turning button.

So why is LG being so bullish about e-paper? Probably because Samsung has given up the fight. It knows that, as component supplier to the two biggest products in each market, it’s got a vice-like grip over current and future tech, and it’s hedging its bets either way. Perhaps it’s got some fiendishly clever concepts coming the business market’s way, rather than that of the consumer.


[Image via Aving USA]

About the author

My writing career has taken me all round the houses over the past decade and a half--from grumpy teens and hungover rock bands in the U.K., where I was born, via celebrity interviews, health, tech and fashion in Madrid and Paris, before returning to London, where I now live. For the past five years I've been writing about technology and innovation for U.S.