August 11, 2010 1:28 am

Plastic Logic abandons long-delayed e-reader

Plastic Logic, a company founded in Cambridge and headquartered in Silicon Valley, has abandoned its long-delayed e-reader amidst rising competition for portable electronic displays.

Coming as the company is negotiating an infusion of fresh capital from a Russian investor, the news raised fears for the future of an ambitious venture that was set up to pioneer a new generation of cheap, light-weight electronics.

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Plastic Logic’s planned e-reader, called the Que, was based on technology developed at Cambridge University in the 1980s. The device was intended to be the first demonstration of the potential of electronics printed onto plastic.

The company has raised nearly $200m from investors over the past eight years and has built a plant in Germany to produce plastic screens for its products.

On Tuesday, however, Plastic Logic said it had abandoned the Que, an A4-sized device for business readers.

”We recognize the market has dramatically changed, and with the product delays we have experienced, it no longer make sense for us to move forward with our first-generation electronic reading product,” Richard Archuleta, chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Mr Archuleta said the company would switch its focus to a successor to the Que, but did not give a timetable or further details of future products. “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,” he said.

The Financial Times reported earlier this week that Plastic Logic was in advanced talks with Rusnano over a capital infusion that would see control pass to the Russian state-controlled company.

Mr Archuleta did not comment on the state of those talks on Tuesday or any other new financial backing for the company, though he sought to play down fears caused by the abandonment of the Que. “We are fortunate to have investors who are confident and committed to our company’s long-term success in commercializing plastic electronics,” he said.

First shown off at the Consumer Electronics Show in January this year, the black-and-white Que reader was intended to carry a premium, $649 price tag. Within a week, however, the market for e-readers was turned on its head as Steve Jobs unveiled Apple’s iPad.

The Financial Times was among the media companies that had reached agreement with Plastic Logic to distribute their content on the Que.

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