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E Ink

Pete Sweeney | ENTRE 510 | E-Ink Case StudyE-Ink in 2007: Case Study
The nature of the opportunity confronting E-Ink ( is potentially vast, but not necessarily so. The concept of “radio paper” is a technology that proposes to do what so many other electronic technologies have tried and failed to do; displace paper as the general medium for reading material. Regardless of the feasibility of that particular goal, E-Ink is also applicable to myriad other applications, including screens and signs. This opportunity is risky because E-Ink is the first innovator and must bear the entire costs of R&D prior to establishing an actual market for the product. On the other hand, many of the potential applications of E-Ink are not disruptive, but complementary, and can therefore be more easily converted into revenue. E-Ink must therefore strike a balance between complementarity and disruption; between serving existing demand and creating new demand. E-Ink’s 3 stage strategy attempts to strike this balance, beginning by attacking two established markets for large area displays and flat panel displays. This strategy was chosen in order to generate short-term revenues without distracting from the ultimate goal: radio paper. E-Ink was highly wary of any “distractions” along the way to radio paper, even if those distractions were profitable. E-Ink was wary of competitors entering the innovation market and leapfrogging E-Ink to reach radio paper first. Therefore E-Ink management drove their team and investors towards radio paper without spending much time exploring profitability in more immediately accessible markets, a strategy that carried its own risks. First and foremost, where competing in established markets for display technologies is relatively low risk, the market demand for radio paper has not been empirically established. The fact that the publishing industry is 135 billion dollars and that having to switch books on the beach is a mild annoyance does not…


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