May 14, 2013, 12:57 PM

An Amazon acquisition could signal new Kindles

The e-retailer has bought mobile device screen maker Liquavista from Samsung.

Amazon.com Inc. is going Dutch with its latest acquisition. It has purchased Liquavista, a Dutch subsidiary of Samsung that specializes in screen technology for mobile devices. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Liquavista’s display cell concepts allow radically brighter and more efficient flat-panel displays to be built—but use today’s established manufacturing infrastructure and processes to achieve it,” the vendor says. “The performance of Liquavista technology makes it well suited for use in mobile applications such as e-readers, mobile phones, GPS devices, portable media players and cameras because of the ability to see displays in all lighting conditions combined with the ability to show video content at very low power.”

Amazon says it plans to continue to develop Liquavista screen technology.

“We are always looking for new technologies we may be able to incorporate into our products over the long term,” an Amazon spokeswoman says. “The Liquavista team shares our passion for invention and is creating exciting new technologies with a lot of potential. It’s still early days, but we’re excited about the possibilities and we look forward to working with Liquavista to develop these displays.”

Amazon would not comment directly on Kindle plans, but it appears the primary use the e-retailer would have for mobile hardware screens would be to update the screens on its Kindle e-readers and tablets. If Liquavista technology can show video content at very low power, for example, that could be a boon for battery life on Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets.

The market for e-readers and tablets continues to heat up. 23% of U.S. consumers age 16 and over read an e-book in 2012, up from 16% in 2011, according to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. The share of people who had read a printed book, meanwhile, declined to 67% from 72%.

The study found that the trend toward increased e-book reading coincided with more shoppers owning e-book readers and tablet computers. The number of people who owned either a tablet computer or a dedicated e-book reader such as Amazon’s Kindle or Nook Media LLC’s Nook grew from 18% in late 2011 to 33% in late 2012, Pew says.

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