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总部设在波士顿的E Ink公司处在此类设备制造周期的核心位置，绝大多数电子书阅读器的显示屏都是由他们生产的。据分析师们介绍，E Ink占据了约90%的市场份额，亚马逊(Amazon)的Kindle、索尼(Sony)的Reader和Barnes & Noble的Nook都使用该公司生产的显示屏。
Forrester Research的分析师莎拉•罗特曼•埃普斯(Sarah Rotman Epps)表示：“供应链集中于且始于一家公司。”他指的就是E Ink
E Ink今年下半年接到潮水般的订单，这家相对较小的公司被迫迅速扩张规模。本月，E Ink在波士顿附近开设了一家工厂。在过去的9个月里，该公司的收入已累计增长250%，达到9600万美元。
E Ink营销副总裁斯里•佩鲁文巴(Sri Peruvemba)表示：“（电子书阅读器）需求涌现之时，其它非电子书阅读器类产品的需求正每况愈下，因此（制造商手里）有闲置的厂房空地。”
纬创资通(Wistron)则在上月收购荷兰电子纸(e-paper)公司Polymer Vision时，表示有兴趣进军电子书阅读器市场。Polymer Vision专长于生产可弯曲、可卷动的显示屏。纬创资通原先是宏基(Acer)旗下的一家代工企业，2000年时从宏基分拆出来。
Polymer Vision首席执行官卡尔•麦戈德瑞克(Karl McGoldrick)表示，电子书阅读器“在潜在数量和实际可获得的内容上，已处于临界规模(critical mass)；在成本价格上也具有吸引力”。他向英国《金融时报》表示：“当一个新行业证实了其发展潜力时，进入的时机往往已经成熟。”
增加投资的迹象，从台湾两大平板显示器生产商身上就可以见出。友达光电(AU Optronics)和奇美电子(Chi Mei Optoelectronics)均表示，已开始生产适用于电子书阅读器的显示面板和模块。
E Ink目前只供应黑白显示器，但表示明年底将推出一款彩色显示器。正在研发替代显示技术的数家公司很快也将对E Ink构成竞争。
Factories gear up in race for e-readers By David Gelles in San Francisco and Robin Kwong in Taipei 2009-10-27
Global demand for e-reader devices is booming from San Francisco to Shanghai as bibliophiles around the world turn to digital books. As many as 5m e-readers are being produced this year internationally, and analysts say that could double in 2010.
A rush in orders is prompting suppliers to ramp up production capacity and is forcing manufacturers to reconfigure factories to meet orders.
At the centre of the manufacturing cycle for the devices is E Ink, the Boston-based producer of the majority of e-reader displays. E Ink holds about 90 per cent of the market, according to analysts, making displays for Amazon's Kindle, Sony's Reader and Barnes & Noble's Nook.
“The supply chain is concentrated and starts with one company,” says Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst with Forrester Research, in reference to E Ink.
The deluge of orders E Ink has received in the second half of this year has forced the relatively small company to expand rapidly. It opened a factory near Boston this month and has increased revenues 250 per cent to $96m in the past nine months.
That the e-reader is in demand during the economic downturn makes it an especially compelling product. In search of a rare recession-defying hit, producers are investing in their technology and electronics manufacturers are turning over space for production.
“The demand is coming at a time when other non-e-reader categories are experiencing a decline, so there has been available factory space,” says E Ink vice-president of marketing Sri Peruvemba.
This is most apparent in Taiwan, where a number of big manufacturers have begun gearing up production plans for e-readers, an indication that companies believe the devices will become a mainstay in the broader consumer electronics industry.
Asus, the netbook pioneer, began preparations to enter the e-reader market in February, and plans to have its first, own-branded model ready by the end of this year at the earliest.
Wistron, the former contract manufacturing arm of Acer that was spun off in 2000, signalled its interest in the e-reader market when it last month acquired Polymer Vision, a Dutch e-paper company specialising in flexible, rollable displays.
Karl McGoldrick, chief executive of Polymer Vision, says there is “critical mass in potential volumes, critical mass in actual available content and attractive cost-price points” for e-readers. “To the extent that when a new industry has proven its growth potential, it is always a ripe time to get in,” he told the Financial Times.
Evidence of increasing investment came with Taiwan's two big flat panel makers, AU Optronics and Chi Mei Optoelectronics, both saying they have begun producing display panels and modules for e-readers.
AUO and CMO's entry into the market significantly eases mass production of e-readers because it ensures a readily available supply of a key component, analysts say.
“In terms of hardware, everything is ready, technology-wise,” said David Chen, senior industry analyst at Market Intelligence and Consulting Institute, a Taiwan government-backed think-tank.
The sudden popularity of e-readers has arrived in spite of the devices being short on sophistication. But the surge of interest has also forced E Ink and other producers to innovate rapidly in an effort to keep up with consumer expectations.
E Ink only distributes black and white displays so far, but says it will have a colour display on the market late next year. It will also soon face competition from several companies working on alternative display technologies.
Among them is Qisda, the contract manufacturing sister company of AU Optronics, which is planning to mass produce e-readers by the end of the year using its own displays. AU Optronics has unveiled a six-inch, flexible screen that it says will go into mass production next year.
At the same time, E Ink is having to work with a growing number of manufacturers. “Because it is a new category, it is not as easy to forecast the space as it is a more mature market,” said Mr Peruvemba.