Business

Amazon buys Samsung’s Liquavista screen-tech company, potentially for color Kindle

Image Credit: Kindle

Updated 10:18 a.m. Pacific time: Amazon has confirmed the purchase

Amazon’s Kindle Fire is in glorious living color, but its original and still-strong-selling Kindle and cousins, the Kindle Paperwhite family, are still irritatingly stuck in 1950s-style black-and-white.

That may soon change.

As The Digital Reader found, Amazon has bought recent Samsung acquisition Liquavista while attempting to hide the fact by routing the acquisition through a limited liability corporation registered in Delaware, which is in turn linked to a holding company named CSC: “Corporation Service Company.”

Very tricksy, Amazon.

Amazon confirmed the purchase with a short emailed statement, saying:

We are always looking for new technologies we may be able to incorporate into our products over the long term. The Liquavista team shares our passion for invention and is creating exciting new technologies with a lot of potential. It’s still early days, but we’re excited about the possibilities and we look forward to working with Liquavista to develop these displays.

Kindle PaperwhiteLiquavista has built a screen technology that approaches the efficiency of traditional e-reader black-and-white e-ink screens while offering the color of LCD and other full-color screen technologies. In other words, you can have your cake and eat it, too: gorgeous full-color screen plus long-lasting battery life.

That might be just the technology that Amazon needs to kickstart conversion of its full e-reader line to a full-color and quick-response screen, as e-ink is also notoriously slow to refresh.

And that is important, because Amazon is doubling down on digital content, hoping to drive both sales and margin growth by selling digital media like movies and TV shows, apps, in-app purchases, and games. The company just launched its new virtual currency, Amazon Coins, today, attempting to increase the rate at which Amazon customers buy things that don’t have to be expensively stored, packaged, and shipped.

And you can’t sell much digital content on a slow black-and-white screen.

While Liquavista’s screen tech won’t be cutting-edge enough to run Samsung’s Galaxy phones and tablets, which need the best screens available, it is advanced enough for Amazon’s Kindles, The Digital Reader says, which are primarily budget, mass-market devices.

And advanced enough to move Amazon’s low-end devices beyond being ghettoes for books, and towards being able to handle all the full-color and full-motion media that Amazon can sell.

Image credits: Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat


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