Dispatches from the Digital Revolution
For Qualcomm, the American ereader market is the one that got away. The San Diego-based technology company does not have a dedicated ereader, but a few years ago it had been poised to debut its own technological breakthrough: Mirasol displays.
Mirasol technology could have been successful here in the states. Who wouldn’t want a long battery life, rapid refresh rate, and crisp color content, even in bright sunlight?
But then the iPad came along. The American market was swept off its feet, won over by Apple and its usual seductive techniques: sleek design, elegant and intuitive interface, and vigorous brand power. Contrary to expectations, American consumers were surprisingly receptive to reading on LCD displays despite the irritating glare. The image quality of Mirasol’s color epaper paled (literally) in comparison.
“As the story goes,” reports Engadget, “Mirasol’s been shipping displays to partners for years, and it really did have confirmation that partners would be punching products out onto the market soon after 2010 began. But…Apple’s sudden and calculated tablet launch caused Mirasol’s stable of partners to ‘reevaluate’ their launch strategies, and that reevaluating led to the shelving/delaying of every single promising product in the pipeline.”
Color epaper is an attractive feature, but that’s the power of Apple for you. Whenever it waltzes into the room, all bets are off. So what happened to Qualcomm and its Mirasol technology? The company has gone abroad, first to South Korea, searching for new markets that will love and appreciate what it has to offer.
Now Qualcomm has its eye on business partners in China.
In two back-to-back January press releases, Qualcomm announced partnerships with Shanghai Nutshell, which is a subsidiary of Shanda Networking Co., Ltd, China’s largest interactive digital content provider, and Hanvon Technology, a leading provider of ereader devices in China.
According to the January 9 press release, “the Bambook ereader includes access to Shanda’s expansive content distribution portfolio, which includes millions of books, magazines, and comics. Additionally, interactive content and social features enable users to share favorite passages with friends or send feedback to the authors.”
Hanvon Technology boasts the Hanvon C18 ereader is “thinner and lighter than any color ereader,” and “includes access to tens of thousands of ebooks, more than 100 Chinese newspapers and more than 300 magazines, 90 percent of which offer full-color digital editions. Hanvon’s continuing collaboration with more than 300 publishers ensures a deep and diverse stream of digital content for consumers. Additionally, the device features Hanvon’s patented handwriting recognition technology—Hanvon Input—to further enhance the user experience.”
But even with these two promising partnerships, will Mirasol flourish in the East? It’s still too early to tell.