As e-readers keep selling and start to form a (niche?) market, it's worth looking forward to what's next. When it comes to E Ink, there's apparently nothing cooking for 2011. We'll have to wait till 2012 to get monochrome improvements.
"We're generally on a two-year cycle with our e-ink technology," Sri Peruvemba, vice president of global sales and marketing at E Ink, told CNET. "It takes some time to develop and test the next generation."
E Ink is a proprietary type of electronic paper manufactured by E Ink Corporation, which was founded in 1997 based on research started at the MIT Media Lab. The company's latest and greatest e-ink display, which goes by the name Pearl and was released last year, is in the Amazon Kindle and Sony Readers.
We can still expect the first color E Ink screen to arrive this year, but since color isn't as important in reading as it is in media entertainment and gaming, this just isn't as exciting. Most of the improvements in electronic paper over the next year will be around performance: the same Pearl display in new devices but faster processors and upgraded driver software to quicken refresh rates.
Peruvemba also said the next generation of electronic paper will be capable of running full motion video. That likely won't be enough to satisfy Amazon, however, if current rumors end up coming to fruition.
Amazon may be building an Android tablet to sell alongside the current Kindle e-book reader. The Kindle is the best-selling product on Amazon, and the company likely wants to keep pushing forward. In addition to the Kindle ecosystem, the company has the Amazon Android App Store, its Cloud Drive service, and is in the meantime making sure to support its Kindle app on tablets.
This is really part of a broader market question, but will e-book readers be around for a long time or will they just end up being swallowed up by tablets? E Ink is going to have to innovate much quicker than every two years if it wants to survive.