Ruminations on the electronics industry from David Manners, Senior Components Editor on Electronics Weekly.

Plastic Logic Encounters Turbulence

Plastic Logic, the Cambridge plastic electronics specialist, seems to have got itself into a mess.

On Monday the FT reports that control of the company may be transferred to Rusnano, a state-owned Russian company. Today, Wednesday, Plastic Logic announces it has canned its product line.

Plastic Logic is one of several UK high-tech investments which are about ten years-old, which have received $100-200 million in venture money, and which are not cash-flow positive.

Investors include Hermann Hauser’s Amadeus Capital Partners, Intel Capital, Oak Investment, Tudor Investment, and BASF. They’ve put in a collective $200 million.

The company has a deal with Merck for the supply of semiconductors and a factory in Dresden.

Plastic Logic has been hailed as the route to ultra-cheap electronics devices of all kinds, but its first commercial product was not an IC, but an e-reader called QUE ProReader.

QUE was to be one third of an inch thick, with a 10.7 inch screen, weighing less than 1lb.

QUE was announced at this year’s CES, and, if it had not suffered production delays, would have been on sale by now for $650 for a WiFi-only version, and $800 for a WiFi + 3G version.

The decision to can QUE may have been affected by the launch of the $500 iPad, and the drop in price to $169 of the Amazon Kindle e-reader.

Plastic Logic will now concentrate on a second generation e-reader. “We plan to take the necessary time needed to re-enter the market as we refocus, redesign and retool for our next generation ProReader product,” says Richard Archuleta, CEO of Plastic Logic, who adds: “We are fortunate to have investors who are committed to our company’s long-term success in commercialising plastic electronics.”

Hope he’s right.

Tags: archuleta, electronics devices, intel capital, launch, tudor investment

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