I agree that an advocate for a specific technology platform, such as tablets, helps. But so many other factors have to be in place before that becomes the deciding factor. "Demand" is pretty evanescent and doesn't accomplish much without the other drivers. In the case of tablets, aside from a combination of the right technologies, materials and manufacturability thereof, market timing of competing platforms (notebooks and handhelds) was a big factor.
Many companies seem to develop technology ahead of actual demand. Companies like Siemens seem to develop technology based on customer needs. But a lot of technology gets developed without a clear customer need in mind -- tablets for instance. With tablets it worked out, but I'm not sure the market would have been significant if Apple hadn't demonstrated the technology's value.
Rob, I think it's less a question of demand than of technology and manufacturing/materials issues. Getting multiple technologies to work together, finding/developing the right combinations of materials, and making this all manufacturable at high volumes is not easy. Tablets took a long time for similar reasons, not only because they didn't have Apple as a champion. So did fancy cell phone features. Miniaturizing cameras didn't happen overnight: that took lots of work on the image sensors and enough time for multiple semiconductor generations/shrinks to occur.
If the idea has been around for ages, Ann, it could be there is not a great demand for the feature. I guess someone company will have to demonstrate the need. Tablets were around for ages before Apple showed they could be cool.
Flexible displays, at least the idea, have been around for ages, but they're usually smaller and not good enough for e-readers. For example, the Flexible Display Center's 7.4 in diagonal display http://flexdisplay.asu.edu/node/195 Samsung and Nokia say they are working on them: http://www.engadget.com/2011/10/30/samsung-to-offer-flexible-displays-in-2012-challenges-nokia-to/
Have you seen this technology anywhere else, Ann. I saw the large placemat-style screen Microsoft developed a few years back. That has some flexibility to it, but nothing like the screen you show in the article.
You're right about kids being great beta testers, NadineJ, especially with tablets. I'm sure you're heard the stories of pre-verbal kids mastering tablet functions. I've seen that close up. It's quite amazing. This flexible screen seems perfect for kids.
Actually, the company is based in Germany, although it has a center of some kind in Russia, presumably to support the Russian schools testing. Nadine, no financial data was available. To date, this is the only large contract I'm aware of that the company has revealed, at least for the color version.
I was pleasantly surprised to see it come out of Russia too. Since it's being used in schools, the cost must be low. Any info on that? Any companies or governments in other countries using this in the same way? Kids are great beta testers.
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