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E-paper’s use is increasing due to its paper-like properties of portability, flexibility and legibility, but it still has disadvantages to overcome before its adoption will become widespread, according to a report from Gartner.

“E-paper has some barriers to overcome before gaining credibility with the mainstream market,” said Gartner senior research director SJ Chae. “However it is generating a great deal of interest and we expect adoption to increase steadily over the next few years as the technology improves.”

In its Emerging Technology Analysis: Electronic Paper, Gartner said that within five years the technology would be used for timetables, business documentation, newspapers, magazines and books. Its use was also highlighted in retail for in-store applications including point of purchase advertising and menus.

It said that in the near term e-paper and print would co-exist, although in the long run it would replace print in some sectors. The research firm believes that e-paper will have a positive impact on books and magazines as another way to reach customers. Single use advertising was singled out as a market in which e-paper wouldn’t become economic. Low power consumption, legibility, similarity to paper and environmental advantages were highlighted as driving the adoption of e-paper. However, the lack of content for e-readers, lack of support for colour, the difficulty displaying moving images and the falling cost and increasing quality of rival display technologies such as OLED and LCD displays and the high cost of e-readers were barriers that needed to be overcome for the technology to succeed.