Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Plastic Logic

When Plastic Logic came on the media scene in the spring of 2009, it garnered a lot of attention. Plastic electronics were an advance as was the device form factor, the size of a standard magazine. The device seemed a step-up from the Kindle and other e-readers coming to market and seemed ideal for the publishing community. Except it didn't have a color display. The consensus was that this device would go through a number of iterations and come 2012, more or less, color displays would be available.  The dozens of e-readers shown at the January 2010 CES provided evidence that other device manufacturers saw color display technology coming soon, just not tomorrow. So with iRex and other e-readers, the focus was not so much on technology because under the hood most of these devices looked similar. The focus was on the business model and ways to be unlike the Kindle in terms of revenue share, ability to share content, and rights issues. This made an awful lot of sense in an orderly market. Plastic Logic was at CES with its smart Que designed for the business user.  Plastic Logic had a smashing booth, a convincing narrative and a $200 million investment in technology.  That they missed the delivery date did not deliver a major body blow. It was the introduction of the iPad that was mercilessly teased at CES and however absent, still stole the show.  Soon Plastic Logic went quiet. The chatter in New York was that the company, burdened by an expensive fabrication factory in Dresden, was not long for the market.

The chatterers were wrong. Today Plastic Logic announced an agreement with the Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies to establish new plastic electronics production in Russia for the creation of its next-generation plastic electronic display.  And to establish a plastic electronics industry in Russia.

This "significant investment" will certainly help Plastic Logic bring to market their next generation  electronic reader for business. The company seems to be betting on the prospect that plastic electronics technology, for economic, environmental, manufacturing and form-factor reasons, will ultimately replace traditional silicon display products.  And they know as much about this sector as any company.

But the market is very different than eighteen months ago. It is no longer as easy to carve out a distinct business user, many of whom have iPads under their arms.

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