Thursday, December 22, 2005

Market entry digital paper funded

This week the Dutch financial daily FD publishes an article on a management buy-out from a Philips spin-off dealing with digital paper. It is funny to see that paper speaks of an investment in electronic newspapers, while the article deals with electronic newspapers, e-books and e-manuals. A kind of professional deformation, I guess.

Philips has developed digital paper on the basis of E-Ink technology. It has started up a production factory for digital paper, named Polymer Vision. Another spin-off I-Rex Technologies is the application company. The company develops applications for the business market; the company names hospitals, education and publishers. (Funny again, as Philips is focussing on medical applications the spin-off is looking that way also). It has developed the I-Rex Reader, a reading tablet. But you can also make annotations on it. I-Rex has developed a system, which automatically change the information in pages; so there is no scrolling, but turning leaves.

Now ABN AMRO Capital and Main Capital are investing in the company I-Rex Technologies. The companies believe in the development of digital paper, especially as carrier of technical documentation. Yes here is the example again: manuals for Boeing as a replacement for the kilometre long row of manuals (I have used this example in 1986 for the use of CD-ROM!). Philips is not a shareholder, but does receive a royalty.

I-Rex has in the meantime a few thousand readers in the market for pilot projects. Close to the Netherlands the Belgian business newspaper De Tijd, a pioneer in new media, experiments with the distribution of news. Further away the Chinese are interested in the readers as the Chinese language is complex and the writing is time-consuming. The sale of the reader will start in April 2006; it will cost a couple of hundred euro.


No comments: