The Financial Times reports (note: free registration or visiting via a Google News link required) that Plastic Logic is shutting down its US offices in Mountain View, California, and laying off a number of other workers in Germany, the UK, and Russia as exits the e-reader-making business to concentrate on making screens for other companies’ devices. 

Plastic Logic entered the e-reader scene with its widely-announced Que large-screen e-ink reader. However, it abandoned the planned device after the iPad came in and changed the market to where it was no longer tenable to launch. Next, Plastic Logic received funding from a Russian nanotech company, built a $700 million e-reader manufacturing plant, and set out to create an e-reader for the Russian education market, but that seems to have gone by the wayside as well.

It’s easy to forget, but Plastic Logic isn’t just another e-ink e-reader company. It pioneered a process for printing circuits onto plastic rather than silicon, which could lead to lighter microchips and flexible displays. However, just because the it has good tech doesn’t mean it can compete in the e-reader and tablet business against the giants who already have established momentum—hence the change in strategy.

“We can make colour displays now and we can get animation on to a plastic display. We have also industrialised the process of making plastic transistors and can get manufacturing yields comparable to the liquid crystal display industry,” [Plastic Logic CEO Indro] Mukerjee said.

The idea of a flexible color e-ink display is quite intriguing, and the world certainly needs another innovator in display technology more than it needs yet another also-ran e-reader maker. Perhaps we can look forward in a few years to Amazon or Barnes & Noble coming out with a flexi-Kindle or flexi-Nook.

(Found via Engadget.)


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