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Geoff Daily

App-Rising.com covers the development and adoption of broadband applications, the deployment of and need for broadband networks, and the demands placed on policy to adapt to the revolutionary opportunities made possible by the Internet.

App-Rising.com is written by Geoff Daily, a DC-based technology journalist, broadband activist, marketing consultant, and Internet entrepreneur.

App-Rising.com is supported in part by AT&T;, however all views and opinions expressed herein are solely my own.

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June 6, 2008 9:50 AM

Missing A Key Point in the Digital Revolution - The Importance of Epaper

I just read this Washington Post interview with Steve Ballmer head of Microsoft.

At one point he stated his belief that within the next 10 years all media will be delivered over the Internet.

While I agree with this generalization in general, he didn't go on to address the fact that a few other things have to happen first.

The biggest of which has nothing to do with the Internet and new media distribution models. The only way we're ever going to replace paper is by enabling a display technology that mimics paper, a concept generally referred to as epaper.

The simple truth is that consumers like the feel of opening up a newspaper and holding a book. And despite promises of the Internet and computers getting rid of the need for paper, the opposite has been true as they've arguably created more paper usage than ever before. Why? Because people like paper.

I think sometimes we online advocates suffer from a bit of conceit, assuming that since the Internet is so wonderful that it can cure all ills. But the truth is that there are almost always other pieces to this complex tapestry that need to be resolved first before we're able to take full advantage of the distribution possibilities of online delivery.

All this being said, even though Ballmer's citing of 10 years is kind of generic and almost a cop out, at the same time within the next 10 years epaper should be a reality.

Already technologies are on the market like the Amazon Kind ebook reader, and working prototypes exist for bendable screens that can roll up inside of a cell phone, as well as epaper screens capable of displaying color and video.

Eventually epaper promises to be produced almost as cheaply as regular paper, so much so that we're going to start seeing these screens everywhere, from cereal boxes to pill bottles to posters to fruit labels.

We can't just say that the Internet will replace a traditional form of media without acknowledging the role of enabling technologies like epaper, otherwise we risk sounding like we're repeating the over-hyped promises of the Internet that led to the bubble a decade ago.

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