Amazon coughs millions for Liquavista screen tech while workers strike

Kindle Colour soon? Not while Leipzig's downing tools


Amazon has nabbed screen tech firm Liquavista from Samsung, potentially for its use in building a colour ereader, while its workers go on strike in Germany.

Although the etailer already has Kindle-branded tablets in colour, it doesn't as yet have a sun-defying ereader display that can do colour, an option that would give its Kindles an edge over competitors like Barnes & Noble's Nook.

Amazon confirmed to The Digital Reader that it had bought Liquavista after earlier reports from the publication.

"We are always looking for new technologies we may be able to incorporate into our products over the long term," the firm said in a statement.

"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."

The news comes as German union Verdi called on over 5,000 workers in Bad Hersfeld and Leipzig to go on strike today, starting at 6.30am local time. The union is trying to force Amazon to improve basic pay and benefits for warehouse staff and allow them to get a collective deal across all the 9,000 employees in the country, instead of piecemeal at different sites.

The union tweeted this morning that the strike had kicked off with a "combative mood" (kämpferische Stimmung) in Leipzig, adding that workers were striking for "collective security" (Tarifsicherheit) and better jobs.

Meanwhile, Amazon wasn't saying how much it paid for Liquavista, though Bloomberg reported earlier this year that Samsung was looking for less than $100m for the firm, which it bought in 2011.

Liquavista's tech is called electrowetting, which it claims can make displays clearer in all lighting conditions and play video without using a lot of power. As well as its usefulness in ereaders, the tech could be used in a number of the products Amazon is reportedly also working on, like smartphones and TV boxes. ®

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