updated 07:00 am EDT, Fri October 2, 2009
AUO to cut e-reader prices in half
AU Optronics (AUO) said on Friday that it hopes to slash the price of e-book readers in half within two years. The Taiwan area company explained to FT that it hopes to use its experience in making LCDs, as well as the sheer scale of its production, to make the e-paper displays affordable enough that they can lead to much less expensive hardware. A $150 reader could be available in 2010, while a $100 reader will ideally ship in 2011.
The more distant reader would cost exactly half as much as the $200 Sony Reader Pocket Edition but may also have a larger screen than that model's five-inch display. AUO senior VP CT Liu said that his firm was already shipping six-inch and nine-inch e-paper displays to a number of companies, including some unnamed European firms as well as the world's largest cellular carrier, China Mobile.
He added that Amazon and Sony are expected to get some of their displays from both AUO as well as the current leader in the space, Prime View. The move suggests cheaper Kindles and Sony Readers in the future, particularly as Prime View has already struck a deal with AUO's rival Chi Mei that could help lower its own costs.
Cost has been one of the most frequently cited reasons for the relatively slow growth of the e-book market. Even at $200, readers like the Pocket Edition are often passed up in favor of more generalized devices like smartphones that are less well-suited to reading books but which can often be used for reading as a secondary feature.