Is Amazon Shutting Down Liquavista?

Is Amazon Shutting Down Liquavista? e-Reading Hardware Rumors

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!

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: He's here to chew bubble gum and fix broken websites, and he is all out of bubble gum. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills at the drop of a hat. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

5 Comments

  1. Javi16 March, 2018

    It’s a pity. I’m afraid I’ll never see a color reflective screen in a 10″-13″ ereader.
    A pity for me and for millions of students I think.

    Reply
    1. Chris16 March, 2018

      Unfortunately I think you’re correct, or at least we may not see one in the US market at least. I think Amazon may be headed toward getting out of the ereader device market completely. It looks like Sony, Kobo and others may not see a business case for investing in the educational market. In other words, they may not see a reason to creating a great color e-ink screen for the educational market because it won’t sell well enough in the general consumer market.

      IMO if there’s further investment by Amazon in their e-readers it will probably be in stylus/handwriting support.

      Nate, the site that stole your joke and reported it as fact reported this info after you did. Next time you ought to include another joke so people can detect whether he stole your info again. 😉

      Reply
  2. Tom S16 March, 2018

    They should go for military applications rather than educational applications. That’s where the money is!

    Reply
  3. Chris Meadows17 March, 2018

    I still say that “electrowetting” sounds like what your baby robot does in its cyber-diaper.

    Reply

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