Will We Soon See a Color Kindle E-Reader, Instead of Black and White?

Liquavista for Color Kindle?

Amazon recently announced acquiring Liquavista, a Holland-based company, from Samsung.   And speculation is rife  that the purchase may lead to a color Kindle e-reader to come.

Liquavista makes display screens and specializes in a process called electrowetting.  Reuters describes it as technology that “makes displays clearer in all lighting conditions and can show video without using much power.”  The technique has applications not only for e-readers but for other devices like smartphones and laptops.

It’s true that Amazon already has a color Kindle, but it is really a tablet computer rather than an e-reader (read our Kindle Fire review).  But this new technology would offer certain advantages over the black and white versions of the e-reader without certain disadvantages of the current color Kindle.  VentureBeat observes:

“Liquavista has built a screen technology that approaches the efficiency of traditional e-reader black-and-white e-ink screens while offering the color of LCD and other full-color screen technologies. In other words, you can have your cake and eat it, too: gorgeous full-color screen plus long-lasting battery life.  That might be just the technology that Amazon needs to kickstart conversion of its full e-reader line to a full-color and quick-response screen, as e-ink is also notoriously slow to refresh.”

NateHoffelder at Digital Reader first broke the news and suggested the color e-reader connection.  The development, if it comes to pass, could be important to both readers of e-books and e-book publishers.

When you consider that e-reader sales are down 28% in 2012 compared with 2011, it seems like the e-reader market needs some shaking up.  A color screen would give people who already own a black-and-white Kindle reader a reason to upgrade, and get them excited to buy more Kindle books.  And it could make Kindle content itself more compelling to owners of e-readers, especially for books with images in them.  Who wouldn’t rather see images in color?

Amazon is focusing heavily on digital content, so investing in devices that make it more compelling  to consume that content make sense.

In an e-mail to CNET, an Amazon spokesperson stated: “We are always looking for new technologies we may be able to incorporate into our products over the long term. The Liquavista team shares our passion for invention and is creating exciting new technologies with a lot of potential. It’s still early days, but we’re excited about the possibilities and we look forward to working with Liquavista to develop these displays.”

Further details of the purchase have not been made public. The video below shows the technology in action.

Image: still from Electrowetting Display video


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Shawn Hessinger Shawn Hessinger is the Executive Editor for Small Business Trends and a professional journalist with more than 20 years experience in traditional and digital media for trade publications and news sites. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and has served as a beat reporter, columnist, editorial writer, bureau chief and managing editor for the Berks Mont Newspapers.

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