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Plastic Logic: There’s More to Screen Tech Than eReaders & Tablets

PlasticLogic followed up their press event earlier this week with some news today that does not bode well for screen manufacturers.Those pretty color, flexible and front-lighted screens won’t be showing up on an ereader soon – probably not ever. PlasticLogic is formally abandoning the idea of supplying screens for the ereader and tablet market. As of today they are turning their attention to greener pastures.

This startup first caught the world’s attention with the Que, a large screen ereader which was launched in the US market mere weeks before the iPad. For obvious reasons that device didn’t go anywhere, and now it looks like PlasticLogic thinks they wouldn’t be able to release any successful follow on devices, but they are open to the idea of potential partners using Plastic Logic’s screen tech on new devices.

They’re even going so far as to drop the PL 100, the academic ereader which was launched in Russia last fall. The PL 100 was released in time for a pilot program in Russian schools, but it won’t be getting a wide distribution in Russian schools. I’e been told that the current model will still be supported, but I wasn’t told that it will stay in production.

Instead PlasticLogic is going to look for industrial and commercial uses for their flexible screen tech. There are any number of  situations where a flexible, durable, and low power display would be worth the extra cost.

Unfortunately for Plastic Logic, E-ink beat them to it. As you can see from this booth visit video from FPD 2011, E-ink’s screen tech is used on all sorts of devices including several that would strike you as unlikely.

So what does that leave for Plastic Logic? Not sure, but there is always the chance that they could license their work to other manufacturers to use rather than use it themselves. PlasticLogic is a leading researcher in plastic based transistors, and I’m sure they will find any number of uses for that technology.

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fjtorres May 16, 2012 um 1:21 pm

Well, plastic-based LCD would be a viable use for their IP. If they can get somebody to bite.
If not, they might be a takeover target; a cheap way for one of the big guys to get their hands on their tech. (There is always the possibility that the tech itself may be at fault, of course.)

It all comes down to the fact that eink dedicated readers are inherently a low-cost, high-volume market. Without the volume, the price is unsustainable.

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