$66 6″ front-lit E Ink e-readers from Jawei [Charbax YouTube channel, May 26, 2013]
OR While the jury is still out on E-paper renaissance because of A4 format on a lighter, plastic substrate? [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, May 15, 2013] E Ink Holdings’ so far ‘LCD only’ subsidiary Hydis gathers ammunition with e-paper displays [The Korea Herald, June 26, 2013]:
Hydis Technologies is not what one would call a big company, but for Korea, it has a symbolic meaning. It was one of the firms that foreign capital gobbled up, only to spit out after stripping it of vital assets and technology.
Now, Hydis, owned by Taiwan-based E Ink Holdings, is out to get back on the map with the production of e-paper displays, the main element for e-books.
Starting in July, Hydis expects to start rolling out electronic paper displays, an area that E Ink is a global leader in.
Hydis officials said the contract is expected to extend to December.
“These displays are next-generation displays, and our technology is sufficient,” said one official, speaking anonymously.
Rollable displays also are in discussion, but that needs to be seen, as Hydis currently lacks the right equipment and capital.
Hydis was formerly a unit under Hyundai Electronics, the precursor to SK Hynix. It once supplied some of the big fish in the industry, such as Samsung and LG.
Prior to the acquisition by E Ink, Hydis had been exploited by China-based BOE Display, which bought Hydis from Hyundai, only to feed its technology to BOE’s Chinese operations.
E Ink initially appeared to have similar plans as it was reticent to make big investments, but both Hydis and E Ink claim that the only plans they have are to get the Gyeonggi Province-based display manufacturer back on track.
“The turnaround plan is aimed to optimally resize the company so that it can focus manufacturing on existing industrial products and explore other new high-margin niche opportunities,” the Hydis management said in a statement to The Korea Herald.
The management added that the focus now will be on high-margin industrial products, such as panels used in applications for medical equipment, avionics and automobiles.
The restructuring itself was painful as it involved letting go of more than half of the workforce, which at one point reached nearly 1,000.
There are now fewer than 400 employees, but those who left are said to have departed in peace, as they were offered an acceptable retirement package.
The restructuring was completed as of May 30.
The plants at Icheon are not yet running, but employees hope they can reactivate them by July, when the EPD orders go in.
“We are trying to optimize and rationalize productivity,” said Oscar Huang, a spokesperson for E Ink in Taiwan.
He also said he knew of the restructuring, but was not aware of the details, saying E Ink chose to leave those up to the Hydis management in Korea.
E Ink acquired Hydis in 2008. Prior, it was named PVI.
As the pioneer in electrophoretic displays used in gadgets like the Amazon Kindle, PVI also merged with E Ink, which is where it got its name.
E Ink is known for having only a small assembly line of its own, choosing to make money mainly from licensing deals.
Electrophoretic display (EPD) maker E Ink Holdings has reported consolidated revenues of NT$2.928 billion (US$98 million) for the second quarter, decreasing 45.56% sequentially and 34.61% on year mainly because Hydis Technologies, its South Korea-based subsidiary, has been reducing production of commodity LCD in line with its operational transformation.
E Ink said during its investors conference on August 15 that it has adjusted the organization of Hydis, downsizing its personnel from 800-900 to about 400.
But E Ink noted global demand for e-book readers is on the rise. According to the company, Amazon started selling Kindle Paperwhite in China and India in June 2013. Japan-based Rakuten has been selling its e-book reader Kobo Aura HD in the US and Europe and will soon tap the China, India and Russia markets. Korea Epub will launch its Android 4.0 e-book reader Crema Shine in late August 2013.
North America will account for 35% of global e-book reader shipments in 2013, Western Europe and Asia Pacific each for 27%, Latin America 6%, the Middle East and Africa 3% and East Europe 2%, E Ink cited forecast by IHS as indicating.
EPD can also be used in smartwatches and other types of wearable devices, electronic tags and back covers of handsets, E Ink indicated.
E Ink posted gross margin of 7.14%, net operating loss of NT$953 million, net loss of NT$1.008 billion and net loss per share of NT$0.93 for the second quarter.
INNOVATE OR DIE:With demand for e-paper displays plunging, the firm has turned to other growth areas, including digital magazines, smart watches and luggage tags
E Ink Holdings Inc (元太科技), which supplies e-paper displays for Amazon.com Inc’s Kindle e-reader series, yesterday reported a widening net loss of NT$1.01 billion (US$33.63 million) for last quarter because of slack demand for e-paper displays and LCD panels.
The quarterly net loss represented a deterioration from the first quarter’s net loss of NT$492 million and a net loss of NT$818 million in the second quarter of last year, the company’s financial statement showed. That also marked the worst quarterly loss in about four years.
Last quarter, E Ink also booked a one-time severance payment of NT$500 million for a 50 percent workforce layoff at its South Korean LCD manufacturing subsidiary Hydis Technologies Co. The number of Hydis employees has been halved to about 400 from between 800 or 900 before the personal adjustment, E Ink said.
Meanwhile, the Hsinchu-based company said it received a record high royalties fee at NT$400 million [US$13.4 million] by licensing Hydis’ patents to Sharp, LG Display and other panel makers to make high-resolution LCD panels that are partly used in Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics patents.
E Ink was upbeat about this quarter’s prospects.
“Customers have put off their new product launches to the third quarter from the second quarter,” company chief financial officer Eddie Chen (陳彥松) told investors.
“There is enormous growth momentum to arrive in the third quarter. You will feel the [strength of] an upswing,” Chen said.
This quarter, revenue is expected to at least double last quarter’s NT$2.93 billion, as customers were scheduled to ship new e-readers for the holiday shopping season, Chen said.
E-paper displays made up about 70 percent of the company’s overall revenue last quarter, according to E Ink.
Gross margin would rise further from last quarter’s 7.1 percent and 5 percent in the first quarter, as the company would ship more higher-margin e-paper displays, Chen said.
To reduce the impact of tablets, E Ink is seeking new growth areas in developing new e-paper applications such as displays for digital magazines, smart watches, handset covers and luggage tags.
By the end of this year, e-paper for those new applications are expected to make up less than 5 percent of the company’s overall revenue, Chen said.
Overall e-reader shipments are expected to be flat at a range between 10 million and 15 million units, compared with last year, E Ink said.
E Ink shares fell 1.23 percent to NT$16.1 yesterday, underperforming the TAIEX, which was down 0.81 percent.
Allwinner E200 Powered Gajah InkCase E Ink phablet case to be $99-$129 [Charbax YouTube czhannel, Aug 2, 2013]
Here’s the flexible E Ink screen that could be in the 2014 Kindle [CNET, July 12, 2013]
Expect some incremental improvements to new e-ink e-readers this holiday season, but superslim designs are probably a year or two away.
I asked Giovanni Mancini, E Ink’s director of product management, what Amazon would be releasing this holiday season because, well, Amazon wouldn’t tell me.
“I can’t tell you, either,” he said. “We can’t comment on customers plans.”
I expected him to say that, but I figured I’d ask anyway. However, what he could tell me about was the advancements E Ink’s technology, some of which of which will find their way into new devices as soon as this year. In the next few months the company will announce its next-generation e-ink platform for e-readers, the successor to Pearl. That screen, released in 2010, is the one used in most current e-ink readers, including the Kindle, Nook, and Sony Reader.
The new platform will offer slightly improved contrast and better optical performance that’s “better tuned to capabilities of higher-resolution TFT displays that are making their way into e-readers,” Mancini said (the $169.99 Kobo Aura HD is an example of a high-resolution e-reader).
Also, and perhaps most importantly, the company has introduced new technology that reduces the amount of ghosting (the digital artifacts left behind as pages are turned), so you won’t have to refresh the page as much. A lot of people don’t like the flash a page refresh creates, and the new screens won’t have to refresh as much. Today, the outer limit is around every six to seven page turns, and some devices now allow you to customize the frequency of page refreshes. Mancini said you’d potentially be able to read up to 100 pages without having the page flash.
“So, is it called Pearl 2?” I asked.
“It doesn’t have a name we’re sharing just yet,” Mancini said. “But before the end of the year we expect to not only bring our technology to market but to have customers announce products with that technology.”
With the next e-ink Kindles, I expect to see some slight improvements to the design and some small performance gains, as well even more uniform lighting in the Paperwhite. And we may see an entry-level Kindle priced at $49 ($20 less than its current price). Just how much weight, if any, Amazon can shave off its e-ink Kindles remains unclear. But I know a lot of people who prefer the entry-level Kindle to the Paperwhite because it’s lighter (5.98 vs. 7.5 ounces*. An ounce and half doesn’t seem like a lot of weight, but in a handheld device it’s very noticeable.
Imagine a 6-inch e-reader that weighs just 3.5 ounces [~100 grams]. That just might make you want to upgrade your device.
* [one ounce is approximately 28 grams]
Shares of E Ink rise on upbeat Q3 sales prospects [Focus Taiwan, Aug 16, 2013]
Shares of E Ink Holdings Inc. got a boost Friday morning after the electronics paper display supplier said a day earlier that its sales for the third quarter could double from the second quarter on peak season effects, dealers said.
The optimistic third quarter forecast led investors to think that E Ink has hit a turning point in the current quarter, despite the fact that the e-paper maker remained in the red the previous quarter, dealers said.
As of 11: 29 a.m., shares of E Ink had added 5.90 percent to reach NT$17.05 (US$0.57) with 11.36 million shares changing hands. The index of the over-the-counter market, where the stock is traded, was up 0.12 percent at 118.89 points.
E Ink said that Hydis owns patents in display production, in particular fringe field switching (FFS) technology [see: Hydis: its FFS succeeding IPS [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, May 11, 2011 – Oct 12, 2012]], and that the unit’s FFS technology generated about NT$400 million in licensing fees in the second quarter.
Hydis licensing fees are expected to continue to serve as an income source for the parent company, E Ink said.
“The current buying helped E Ink shares clear the strong technical hurdles at around NT$16.80 so the stock has become technically healthier,” [Ta Ching Securities analyst Andy] Hsu said.
E Ink Launches Spectra, The World’s First True Three Pigment Electronic Paper Display [press release, May 21, 2013]
E Ink Technology Solves Unmet Need to Include Color on Electronic Shelf Labels to Highlight Promotions, Sales and Logos
May 21, 2013 – Cambridge, MA — E Ink® Holdings, “E Ink” (8069.TW), an ePaper and Electronic Shelf Label visionary, today introduced E Ink Spectra, the world’s first three pigment electronic paper display (EPD), featuring black, white and red pigments. Spectra is currently being demoed at SID Display Week 2013 in Vancouver, CA.
Price optimization strategies and adaptable technology are vital to ensuring retailers’ competitive advantage, success and growth. By using electronic shelf labels (ESL) with E Ink’s technology, retailers have the ability to change pricing strategies as needed in real time, allowing them to stay one step ahead of competitors while attracting consumers based on changing market conditions. Spectra allows retailers to elevate the impact of their ESLs, by adding color to logos and quickly directing consumers’ attention to important information, such as product sales and promotions.
“The three pigment system is a major achievement for E Ink, and a technological accomplishment in our industry,” explained Giovanni Mancini, director of product management, E Ink. “As the first product line to feature this advanced ink, Spectra provides retailers with the same visual and power savings attributes of our black and white ESL products, with the option of adding a third color to highlight promotions or other relevant information.”
“We are excited to see the addition of color, something requested by many of our customers,” said Niclas Qvist, Head of Marketing and Global Partner Management at Pricer, the leading Electronic Shelf Label (ESL) solution provider. “Pricer use E Ink’s e-paper in all our graphic products today. E Ink and Pricer are leading the way by giving shoppers the best in-store experience with clear and easy to read price tags. Product development is guided by market feedback and the first products will be developed in close cooperation with both E Ink and selected customers.”
“Pervasive Displays is committed to delivering innovative electronic paper enhancements and solutions that enable revolutionary commercial industrial electronic paper display applications,” said Scott Soong, CEO of Pervasive Displays. “Adding color to electronic paper is an effective advancement to this technology. Color adds the benefit of being able to quickly draw attention to specific messages – in retail, red is prevalent for promotions; in other industries red is used for exception management. The ability to quickly discern the importance of a message is critical in any environment.”
Spectra will support both active matrix and segmented format ESLs, making it the ideal product for a range of retail applications. The three pigment EPD is also appropriate for industrial, smart card and medical market applications, where Spectra can be used to display information on electronic identification badges.
While the eReader market continues to be an important part of E Ink’s business and the company is unequivocally committed to the eReader product line, over the past few years E Ink has invested resources into supporting different applications across markets.
“We have always been fortunate to have high customer demand for our electronic paper displays for non-eReader applications,” stated Mancini. “The results of our investments will be evident in 2013 as more non-eReader products using E Ink EPDs are released into the market.”
Spectra will be available in Q3 2013.
E Ink Triton II Won 2013 Display Taiwan’s Outstanding Photonics Product Award [press release, June 17, 2013]
June 17, 2013 – Cambridge, MA — E Ink® Holdings, “E Ink” (8069.TW), a global leader in ePaper technology today announced that its E Ink Triton II has won the 2013 Display Taiwan’s Outstanding Photonics Product Award with superior product performance.
E Ink ePaper technology is featured by reading comfort, sunlight readability, high contrast ratio, and low power consumption. Triton II, the award-winner, applies the optical design of front light module and optimize color resist arrangement of color filters, to reach high color saturation, high brightness, high contrast and low power consumption. This has led to the development of the new generation of color electronic paper display, and come into mass production. This is another award won by E Ink after its Spectra obtained the Display Week Best in Show Award by the Society for Information Display in 2013.
“We are honored that the organizers of Display Taiwan have selected Triton for this award.” said Felix Ho, interim chairman for E Ink Holdings, “E Ink continues to invest significantly in the development of electrophoretic display technology. It is great to see the results of this work incorporated into a product such as the PocketBook Color eReader.”
E Ink Introduces New 1.73″ Flexible Mobius Display For Smartwatch Applications [press release, June 3 2013]
June 2, 2013 – Cambridge, MA — E Ink® Holdings, “E Ink” (8069.TW), a digital signage and display visionary, announces the addition of a 1.73″ flexible display to its Mobius product line of flexible electronic paper display (EPD) technology. The 1.73″ display has been specifically engineered for smartwatch and watch applications. The display is based on flexible TFT technology developed and brought to production by E Ink. The first commercial product to use this 1.73″ display is the Sonostar Smartwatch announced this week at Computex in Taipei, Taiwan.
The Sonostar smartwatch was jointly developed by E Ink’s subsidiary Transmart Co. Ltd and Sonostar. The smartwatch was chosen by the Taipei Computer Association as one of only 10 major product highlights at Computex, which will run from June 4-8 in Taipei, Taiwan.
The 1.73″ Mobius display supports a resolution of 320X240 pixels with 16 greyscale levels. The display size and characteristics make the technology ideal for the smartwatch market. Using a flexible substrate, the 1.73″ Mobius is lightweight and rugged and is conformable so the end product has a better fit for the consumer. Its low power usage and sunlight readability make this technology ideal for mobile devices. Unlike conventional displays, the 1.73″ Mobius display can be cut into different shapes.
“The joint development between Sonostar and Transmart is the perfect example of the how E Ink can help its customers get their product to market,” said Giovanni Mancini, director of product management for E Ink Holdings. “E Ink displays enable unique products that capture the customer’s imagination. Our business development team has the expertise to help our customers design the displays into their products in ways never before thought possible.”
More information on the Sonostar smartwatch can be obtained by visiting the Sonostar booth at Taipei World Trade Center Hall I (No: C0317) during Computex Taipei 2013 (June 4 to 8) or by going to www.sonostar.com/Smartwatch/. You can get more information about the Mobius 1.73″ display by visitingwww.eink.com.
E Ink Unveils Aurora, The World’s First Low Temperature Matrix Electronic Paper Display [press release, June 3 2013]
May 21, 2013 – Cambridge, MA — E Ink® Holdings, “E Ink” (8069.TW), an ePaper and Electronic Shelf Label (ESL) visionary, today announced the upcoming release of E Ink Aurora, a first-of-its-kind electronic paper display (EPD) able to withstand freezer’s temperatures. The new solution provides retailers and business owners with greater flexibility and a more efficient solution in managing pricing strategies for products sold in freezers and cold outdoor climates. A demonstration of Aurora, along with E Ink’s latest products can be seen at Display Week 2013 in Vancouver, CA from May 21-23.
Providing low power usage and cost optimization through a 5-volt driving capability, Aurora supports applications in conditions as cold as -25 C. Additionally, Aurora has been tuned for non-eReader applications, and is ideal for electronic shelf labels (ESLs) and smart cards in the retail, medical and logistics markets. Aurora will be available to partners and customers starting in July 2013.
The release of Aurora is an indication of E Ink’s product diversification strategy and commitment to providing the ESL market with an extremely durable, low power display technology. While eReaders continue to be an important market for E Ink, and the company is unequivocally committed to the eReader product line, E Ink believes that its unique technology addresses retailers’ and business owners’ needs to install displays in previously impossible or impractical locations across markets.
“Opticon is excited to work with E Ink to expand our portfolio of e-paper based electronic shelf labeling (ESL) products. With the integration of a low temp film, we can finally install our ESL solution into all departments in a grocery or convenience store,” said Mike Waters, Opticon, Inc. “To date, we’ve lacked the technical capability to operate our wireless shelf tags inside a freezer, limiting the opportunities to completely eliminate manual paper price changes. Opticon will now be able to offer a line of IP rated freezer tags in 2″, 2.7″, 4.41″, and 7.4″ form factors.”
“Pervasive Displays is committed to advancing the use of electronic paper in industrial applications,” said Scott Soong, CEO of Pervasive Displays. “The new Aurora product from E Ink extends the reach of electronic paper to cold chain applications, signage, automotive and a myriad of additional industries, unlocking new ROI potential for e-paper applications.”
“Inaccurate prices are one of consumers’ major gripes when shopping at supermarkets,” said Giovanni Mancini, director of product management, E Ink. “With an average of close to 40,000 items carried in supermarkets, effective price management can become a herculean task. At E Ink we believe that ESLs not only cut down on the instances of mislabelled information, but also can ultimately help retail stores maximize profits.”
In the Food Marketing Institute’s 2012 Shopper Trends report, consumers rated accurate shelf tags as one of their most important criteria in selecting their primary store. Learn more about Aurora and E Ink’s other breakthrough digital signage and display technologies by visiting booth #1215 at SID from May 21-23.