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E-paper displays: keep reading

27 Aug 2009

Low power consumption and ease of reading underpin robust growth projection for e-paper displays.

The e-paper display market will grow to 1.8bn units and $9.6bn in revenues in 2018, up from 22m units and $431m in revenues in 2009 – a compound annual growth rate of 41% by revenue and 64% by units. Those are the headline numbers in a new study from DisplaySearch, a US-based technology consultancy specializing in displays and photovoltaics.

E-paper displays offer a versatile platform technology, spanning everything from e-books, e-newspaper/magazines, mobile phones, electronic shelf labels, point-of-purchase and public signage displays, displays in smart and credit cards, as well as clothes and other wearable items.

"E-paper displays are taking off with consumers due to their low power consumption and ease of reading, especially in sunlight," noted Jennifer Colegrove, director of display technologies at DisplaySearch. "In addition, e-paper displays are 'green' because they reduce paper consumption, and electronic shelf labels can save time and labour costs by enabling dynamic pricing in stores."

E-book displays currently account for the majority of e-paper revenues, according to the E-Paper Displays Report. Nearly all e-book devices currently on the market use E Ink's electrophoretic display technology, with a small number – such as Fujitsu's FLEPia – using cholesteric liquid-crystal-display (LCD) technology.

Other electrophoretic display suppliers, such as SiPix and Bridgestone, have announced that they will also commercialize e-book displays.

Additional findings from the E-Paper Displays Report include:

  • The number of e-book/e-text books models went from one in 2003–04, to three in 2006, to about five in 2007. In 2009, the number of models jumped to about 20. The e-paper display market for e-books and e-textbooks is forecast to grow from about 1 million units in 2008 to 77 million units in 2018.
  • Colour e-book displays recently entered the market with Fujitsu's 8 inch FLEPia e-book. Owing to the high price and technical challenges, DisplaySearch forecasts that colour e-books will not reach high volumes before 2011.
  • Electrophoretic was the leading technology in 2008, and DisplaySearch forecasts that the technology will continue to lead the e-paper display market growth for the forecast period, reaching $5.8bn in revenues by 2018.
  • Bistable LCD was the second largest e-paper display technology by revenues in 2008; DisplaySearch forecasts this segment will reach $2.5bn by 2018.
  • MEMS (microelectromechanical system) display technology will expand from small-size mobile-phone displays to colour and medium-size e-book displays over the next few years.
  • Electrochromic displays are targeting low-cost, high-volume smart-label and card-display applications. DisplaySearch forecasts that electrochromic will become the leading technology in terms of unit volume for e-paper displays by 2013.

Berkeley Nucleonics CorporationLASEROPTIK GmbHMad City Labs, Inc.Hyperion OpticsUniverse Kogaku America Inc.AlluxaCHROMA TECHNOLOGY CORP.
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