If the format of newspapers has advantages (such as large, thin, folding), then a new advance in display technology by the South Korean LG Group could be important. The LG display e-paper, is the first of its kind promised for the commercial market (models delivered during 2010-11). It is just 0.3mm thick but 250 x 240mm (19”) in size, about the size of standard newsprint or the A3 format. It looks like this:
The LG e-paper, courtesy LG Group
The TFT display is fabricated on flexible metal foil rather the usual glass substrate, which makes it bendable if not neatly foldable. It’s not a perfect newspaper substitute, but it’s definitely on the road. It’s also not a solution for today’s crisis in the newspaper business, but in making something that fits the newspaper format, which is also digital and presumably able to access the Internet, it may restore some of the lost advertising real-estate that has so hurt the newspaper business model on the Internet.
Caveats are in order: Pricing has not been set. It will be some time before the technology is in mass production at popular sizes (and prices). There is no immediate competition. The long-term durability and usability has, of course, yet to be tested. Support for e-paper from publishers is unannounced and in any case will take a while for technical and content issues to be resolved.