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E-Ink’s Got Competition

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The Wall Street Journal ran a rather long article today on the competition facing Prime View, the Taipai-based company behind the E-Ink screens used in the Sony Reader, Kindle, Nook, and many other brands of eReaders. Much of the article will be familiar to folks following eBook news, but there are a few facts worth pulling out to save you the trouble of slogging through the whole thing.

The first interesting factoid is that Prime View plans to roll out color E-Ink screens by the end of 2010, meaning, according to the company’s marketing VP, they most likely won’t be available in time for the 2010 holiday shopping season. There’s a very cool picture of how the color screens will work.

This lag could be a damning factor to E-Ink’s continuing dominance of the eReader market–between now and 2010, we’re likely to see the rise of the tablet computer, which will be in color and be able do all kinds of computing tasks, including play video, which even the color E-Ink screens will refresh too slowly to do. With the growth of the eReader market, expectations are high that Prime View will turn a profit in 2010, but more losses are expected on the way.

According to the article, Prime View faces competition from the LCD maker AU Optronics, which plans to take over 30% of the eReader market in the next two years, as well as two other companies: Delta Electronics and Pixel Qi Corp.

Prime View chairman Scott Liu told The Wall Street Journal, “We believe we can keep leading in technology, production quality, cost and consumer awareness,” but, clearly, E-Ink is no longer the only game in town.

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