Color Kindle. Will Color Kindle ever arrive?

Every time Color Kindle comes up I understand how poor old Captain Ahab must have felt whilst chasing Moby Dick.

Today’s exciting news that a Color Kindle might be arriving in 2014 or 2015 might lead to yet another Color Kindle non-show.

Here’s a sampling of past Kindle Review posts discussing Color Kindle and Color eReaders –

  1. Feb 20th, 2012 – DigiTimes claimed that 3 million color eInk screens for Color Kindle would start shipping March 2012.

    DigiTimes, which has a split personality (30% of the time Nostradamus, 70% of the time your local tavern drunkard prophesizing the 2012 Mayan apocalypse), makes three very bold Color Kindle claims –
    1.EInk (the maker of Kindle eInk displays) has won a big order to make 6″ color eInk Panels for Amazon (presumably for color eInk Readers or color eInk powered Tablets).
    2.The order is OVER 3 million screens a month.
    3.The shipments start in March 2012. Say what?

  2. Jan 22nd, 2011 – Samsung bought Liquavista and got everyone excited about color eReaders from Samsung. Notice the status of Color eReaders in January 2011 –

    1.PVI saying eInk Triton is not far off. Hanvon agrees, and is releasing a color screen eReader this year in China.
    2.PocketBook releasing a color eReader, based on Qualcomm Mirasol, in Q3, 2011.
    3.Samsung buying Liquavista, which has its own color ePaper technology, and offering 50 Euro discounts on both of its existing eReaders.
    4.Fujitsu selling its second generation color screen eReader in Japan.
    5.Adam shipping with a Pixel Qi powered multi-mode screen, which includes a reflective mode for reading in sunlight.

    That’s 5 separate companies and 5 separate screen technologies.

  3. Jan 5th, 2011 – Mirasol put up a video of their color eReader (courtesy Qualcomm, try the HD version in full screen mode).
  4. November 8th, 2010 – Hanvon talked about its color eReader.

    It’s got a 9.68″ screen. A screen that is color eInk from the same company (PVI/eInk) that makes the Kindle 3′s eInk Pearl screen. It’ll be available in March 2011 in China – perhaps in the US too. It’ll be priced at $440.

    This might be the first color eInk eReader. Of course, Amazon and Mirasol and Sony might spoil its debut between now and then.

    New York Times has written a never-ending, rambling, article on the Hanvon Color eInk eReader.

  5. September 8th, 2010 – Qualcomm confirmed that a color eReader from an unknown partner will release in Q1, 2011. It also said that a partner invested $2 billion into a Mirasol screen production plant. Yes, $2 billion. Invested into a plant that makes invisible Mirasol screens that no one has yet seen.
  6. March 2010 – PVI promises Color eReaders in 2010. It actually said it’ll start mass-producing color eInk displays in Q4, 2010.
  7. Jan 8th, 2010 – BeBook demos Color eReader using Liquavista. Now, 3 years and 4 months later, Amazon buys Liquavista and says ‘It’s Early Days’. Yeah, Early Days that never end.
  8. Jan 7th, 2010 – Claims that a Color Kindle with Qualcomm Mirasol display would arrive by end 2010.
  9. May 31st, 2009 – Pixel Qi Hybrid Screen pictures. Did Kindle get Pixel Qi? No, only some tablet called Notion Ink Adam and a few other devices which haven’t found mainstream success. Here’s a Pixel Qi video from June 3rd, 2009 –  .
  10. Dec 5th, 2008 – PVI eInk Technology Roadmap. The key part is this:

    While there are rumors of a 3 year waiting period, eInk’s own VP has said that color screens will be available in 2009. I’d take that claim lightly – here’s a picture from a press release from Oct 2005 that talked about “an electronic paper color prototype that achieves 12-bit color in a 400×300 pixel format with resolution of 83 pixels per inch, using a custom color filter from strategic partner Toppan “. Color eInk screens have been touted since 2001, and a hard 2009 release date is no certainity. Here’s the 2005 image –

    eInk Color - in 2009?

    eInk Color – in 2009?

    And next, a video from May, 2008 showing an actual eInk color screen –

Notice the three key things in that article from December 2008 –

  1. An image of a color eInk screen from 2005. PVI eInk have been demoing Color eInk screens since 2005. It’s now 2013. 8 YEARS!
  2. A video showing an actual eInk color screen, from May 2008. It’s now FIVE YEARS exactly.
  3. PVI eInk promising color eInk screens in 2009. It’s now 2013. Please Note: By February 2009 PVI eInk had changed its tune and started promising Flexible Displays by 2010 (haven’t arrived), and Color eInk Screens by 2011 (also haven’t arrived).

Color eInk is even more elusive than Moby Dick.

Yet, the promise lingers. Is something different this time?

After 8 years of demos and videos and companies buying each other, is something different? Amazon buying Liquavista from Samsung is perhaps an indicator that a Color Kindle is set to arrive in 2013 or 2014. Let’s hope so. We do need a Color Kindle to keep eReaders exciting and competitive with Tablets.

The Moby Dickest thing would be if Amazon released a new Kindle Fire Tablet using the Liquavista screens but completely ignored the eInk Kindles.


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