Rusnano, a nanotechnology company owned by the Russian government, plans to invest $150 million to build screens for eBook readers, the FT reports.The screens will be manufactured in Russia and then shipped to Taiwan for assembly into e-readers, and then shipped to the US and Russia. US startup Plastic Logic and VC firm Oak Investment are partners.
This is part of the Russian government’s drive to promote technology to diversify the country’s economy away from commodities. Although given the lack of rule of law in the country and the heavily state-directed nature of these efforts, we doubt they’ll be successful over the long run.
This also goes to show that eBook readers are coming into their own as a big and separate category, instead of being displaced by tablets as many speculated with the arrival of Apple‘s iPad. It turns out there are enough big readers out there, and reading on e-ink is so satisfying, that e-readers are a genuinely big global market in their own right.
Beyond the fact that Amazon‘s Kindle platform is a success on all devices, this also bodes well for the Kindle hardware, for which Amazon also has big ambitions. Reportedly, the Kindle hardware division and the eBook store are evaluated on separate P&Ls so Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos clearly expects Kindle devices to have a bright future as such, and not just as a loss leader/beachhead for selling eBooks.