There is an unconfirmed report coming out of the Netherlands today that Amazon is shutting down its screen tech subsidiary. Citing unnamed sources, tech blog Bits &Chips claims that Amazon decided last year that it would close Liquavista. Amazon is reportedly busy dismantling the startup, and plans to phase out the staff in the course of the coming year.
Amazon was asked to comment on this story about 3 hours before it was published, but has not responded.
For the past decade or so Liquavista has been developing a low-powered screen tech to replace LCD screens. Their designs were based on electrowetting technology, which is a fancy way of saying that each pixel in a Liquavista screen contained 3 liquids (red, green, blue), and that the color shown by a pixel depended on the amount of power fed into each liquid.
The tech was originally developed at Philips, before Liquavista was spun out in 2006. Over the following decade the startup showed off demo screens on several occasions, but it never put the screen into production, and it was never closer than a perpetual two years away from releasing a screen unit to market.
And now it looks like it never will be releasing that first screen.
I was the first to report that Samsung bought Liquavista in 2011, and the first to report that it had been sold to Amazon in 2013, and now it looks like I just may be the first to report Liquavista’s demise.
In a way, I’m not surprised. It was pretty clear when Samsung sold Liquavista in 2013 that there wasn’t much of a market for the screen tech by that point; the original intended use was as a solution to the mobile device battery life issue, and that problem had already mostly been fixed by 2013.
There was no need to use a new screen tech when battery capacity was already improving year by year, and screens were getting more and more energy efficient. Nevertheless, some of us had been hoping Amazon would push through and bring the new screen to market just so it could have a Kindle screen that no other ereader could match. (I even made it an April Fool’s day joke in 2016, and I was so convincing that someone actually stole the joke and claimed it was real.)
And now it looks like we won’t see it at all.
Thanks, Javi, for the tip!