You might remember back in 2005 the SED (Surface conduction Electron-emitter Display) technology. Canon showed at CEBIT the first display based on that technology and there was a general consensus that such technology would have replaced the LCD one by the end of the decade, given the better quality of the images.
That didn’t happen because the LCD was so successful on the market that companies kept investing in its bettering that it reached the quality level promised by SED. In 2010 Canon tanked the SED.
Indeed, that was an example of the power of the market (that is all of us) in steering technology evolution. The pull of the market forced manufacturers to increase the quality of LCDs, the huge volumes led to even better manufacturing and economies of scale and made it harder for SED to carve a dent in the market.
Now it seems it is the time of Mirasol. Mirasol is a technology perfected by Qualcom (they bought it from Mirasol….) that has the promise to commission eInk. Like eInk it has very low power consumption but unlike eInk it can display colors.
Hence, many were considering Mirasol as the winner. A few products based on this technology have appeared on the market early this year from manufacturers in China. But they have not been met with interest by the market.
The fact is that the color eReader (that is the product being targeted by Mirasol technology) is on a collision route with the iPads and the like. It surely needs much less power and therefore its battery lasts longer but at the same time the technology is not able to display movies. This is proving to be the pitfall.
If I am looking to use it for reading books, well I can be contented with a black and white screen , like the Kindle. If on the other hand I am looking at the new wave of eBooks with multimedia content color is important, but so is the capability to run video clips.
Qualcom has announced at the end of July that they are discontinuing the production of Mirasol based screen because they have to been able to improve the production process significantly (read: it is still very difficult to run video clips on this technology).
The strong interest of the market (of us) in iPads and the likes and in using them to watch YouTube and other multimedia content is putting pressure on this kind of devices manufacturers, creates economies of scale that lead to improving performances and lowering the production cost. And this is making it harder for technologies like Mirasol to grab a share of the market.