Sony, Taiwan's E Ink aim to write new chapters for e-paper
With venture, old partners seek markets beyond books
TOKYO -- Sony is setting up a joint venture with Taiwan-based E Ink Holdings this month, hoping to spur faster growth in the market for e-paper displays.
The partners since 2004 are establishing the Taiwanese venture to develop and market new e-paper applications besides e-books, Sony said Monday. The Japanese electronics maker, which has sold devices including its Reader with displays made by E Ink, will handle product planning and marketing at the new entity. E Ink will be responsible for manufacturing and technology development.
Sony Semiconductor Solutions and E Ink subsidiaries are investing around 70% of the company's 420 million New Taiwan dollars ($13.7 million) in capital, with venture capital firms putting up the rest and E Ink as the top shareholder.
E-paper shipments surged in the 2000s with the rise of e-books but have faced stiff competition from tablets equipped with liquid crystal displays. Sony has helped broaden e-paper's uses with such offerings as watches as well as internet-connected displays for hospitals. The new joint venture envisions a future in which the technology plays a "valuable role in the social infrastructure," according to Sony.
E Ink, founded in 1992 by a major Taiwanese papermaking and printing group, is known as a supplier for Amazon's Kindle e-readers. The company aims to further extend the reach of its products and recently began partnering with Japan Display to develop new technologies. It is also teaming up with players in other industries for such new applications as digital sheet music.