E-paper poses a green alternative to dead-tree newsprint, but only if the traditional newspaper market can be cracked. Just as the e-textbook market needed a page sized display to take off, the e-newspaper market needs a familiar, foldable, broadsheet format, according to startup NewsFlex Inc.
"We believe we have the right technology to give people that familiar newspaper reading experience, and the right business model to put e-newspapers ahead of both television and the Internet in news delivery," said Edward Laves, founder and chief executive offer of NewsFlex (Golden, Colo.)
The company has patented a hinge that allows four page-sized e-paper panels to be connected into a nearly seamless broadsheet (the separation between panels is less than 2 millimeters). The e-newspaper can be folded like a paper broadsheet, with three popular folding methods possible.
NewsFlex's business model borrows from the cell phone model. Subscribers would sign a two-year contract to get the platform free from the publisher, which would kick back half of the first two years' monthly fees to NewsFlex to pay for the roughly $300 display.
At the end of the two years, the newspaper can offer the consumer a reduced subscription rate and still retain a fat profit margin, since printing costs will have been reduced to zero.
Content would be delivered to the NewsFlex both in real-time and on demand. Other e-readers use 3G, allowing newspaper content to be updated only once a day, but NewsFlex will use the local subsidiary communications authorization (SCA) subcarriers that are available for rent from nearly every FM channel in the United States. NewsFlex newspapers would update in real-time whenever a news story is broadcast on the SCA channel.
"I believe these kinds of devices will bring the readers back who are now browsing the Web or watching TV to get their news," said E Ink vice president of marketing, Sri Peruvemba.
NewsFlex is in the process of choosing an e-paper vendor to provide the four panels for its hinged broadsheet assembly. It hopes to have contracted with various publishers by next year's Consumer Electronics Show.
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