E Ink was the first company to mass produce EPD and has made steady improvements to the technology used in the Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, and other basic e-readers, said Paul Semenza, a senior VP at DisplaySearch, in blog post earlier today.
These improvements, which Semenza says has helped E Ink stay ahead of the competition, include higher reflectivity, higher resolution and gray scales, faster switching speeds, and the ability to pan across a page.
EDP (Electronic Paper Display) technologies are meant to mimic the appearance of ordinary ink on paper. Unlike conventional backlit panel displays which emit light, EPDs reflect light like ordinary paper.
Semenza says that competition from tablet PCs has caused Amazon and Barnes and Noble, the leading customers for EPD, to offer tablet-like color e-readers using TFT LCDs. This resulted in a significant slowdown in the EPD market starting at the end of 2011. DisplaySearch estimates EPD revenues totaled $973 million in 2011, 43% (Year over Year growth); however, Q4’12 revenues did not grow Y/Y, and Q1’12 revenues fell by 84% Y/Y.
While there are many other applications for EPD and other low-power display technologies, Semenza says e-readers accounted for more than 90% of EPD revenues in 2010 and 2011.
“Apple’s iPad opened up a new market for tablet PCs that could bridge the gap between mobile PCs and e-readers,” says Semenza. “Tablet PCs have offered consumers the ability to have full color and video capability, in a form factor that is similar to e-readers and with battery life, while not in weeks like e-readers, is good enough for most use cases.”