Low 3-D Uptake Worries TV Manufacturers

Low 3-D Uptake Worries TV Manufacturers

For the past few years, display manufacturers of every stripe have been singing the praises of 3-D displays and their various levels of support for the nascent standard. Consumers, unfortunately, haven't been playing along. Despite marketing initiatives, high-profile film releases, and prominent support for 3-D gaming from the likes of Sony and Nvidia, 3-D isn't catching very well.

TV manufacturers are grappling with some of the same difficulties that've slowed down Blu-ray adoption. It took various manufacturers and the FCC decades to create an HDTV broadcast standard that satisfied the government's concerns while delivering superior image quality, but there was never any question as to whether or not consumers wanted larger TVs with superior image quality. The arguments here focused on which display technology and panel type could best scale to meet the needs of the market.


The RCA CT-100 (left, 1954) is the first NTSC-compatible commercial color TV. 44 years later, Fujitsu released the first 42" plasma TV that supported 480P. After that long, consumers were ready to upgrade.

It was clear from the beginning that high-definition televisions would devour the standard definition (SD) market in much the same way DVD players ate VHS. Both standards offered better image quality, required less packaging, and could improve color fidelity or offer better audio. Their modern counterparts (3-D and Blu-ray) offer improvements--but the benefits are more specialized and/or less noticable.

Consumers continue to buy more 3-D TVs every year, but current research suggests that's because manufacturers have continued to add 3-D support to an increasingly large percentage of their commercially available displays. According to the NPD Group, sales volumes are up slightly in 2011 but revenue has remained flat. Ticonderoga Security analyst Brian White recently wrote: "The LCD panel industry remains in the midst of a secular slowdown that is likely to only deteriorate further over the next couple of years."

Sony's Mike Arbary, a senior VP in Sony Electronics, told CNN the following: "Here's what we learned last year: Three-D [sic] as a technology wasn't necessarily a primary driver for why a customer would want to buy a TV. What customers are looking for is the best TV picture quality that they can buy," Abary said. "And if that TV happens to also have 3-D capability, that's just icing on the cake."

What Comes Next?

Sony is betting on 'smart' TVs to fuel the Next Big Thing engine. That's an uncertain path at best, for reasons that have nothing to do with the extra intelligence baked into any particular display. Streaming services via Netflix, Pandora, or even Hulu could draw consumers--but all of these options are ramping in the face of expanding broadband caps and ISP cash grabs. Broadcasters are deeply leery of IPTV services as evidenced by the reaction to GoogleTV earlier this year. One of the consequences of fusing TV and computer DNA is that manufacturers now have an interest in content consumption that may very well conflict with what cable providers have in mind.

The pure technology side of the industry isn't a wasteland, but we're still years away from a major display advance. Large OLED displays promise lower power consumption and much-improved color reproduction, but cling stubbornly to the horizon. Higher resolution standads (think 1440P) exist, but there's no formal plan in place for moving to higher broadcast standards.

With no must-have technology available in the near-term future, the display industry may have to accept the first lull in consumer interest in a decade or more. Wireless displays and streaming capabilities are attractive, but they don't pack the same punch as HDTV's in 720P did in the eyes of consumers used to nothing but 480i.
0
+ -

The lesson here is that manufacturers of durable goods who expect to sell essentially the same product to the same consumers over and over again are planning to fail. 3DTV is a gimmick. Much as I hate Sony for their many anti-consumer actions (including the blatantly illegal rootkit viruses they distributed on audio CDs), I think Arbary is right; and the ISPs and content owners had better get used to the idea that people *will* cut the cable; if we can;t get anything but over-the-air HDTV and rented DVDs, oh well. People lived perfectly well without TV in the 40s and we will always ahve consumer-created content to share now.

0
+ -

What do consumers expect, 3D right now is expensive and right now it's a more niche format then a serious broadcasting revolution.

Anyway, the words I can say about this are very few due to the obvious realizations that even the poster above has noted. Yes, we do have user created content but unless you have a way to get that content or hook up your TV to your computer I don't think it's feasible; plus the number of consumer-created content on sites like YouTube can be of questionable quality (from overproduced to just horrible.) and if we don't get started in the content-creation that matters (Episodic material, homemade movies, decent content.) then content is going to find itself in a stalemate.

Also, it is possible for Smart TV functionality to be added via a set box but I'm guessing the Logitech Revue didn't make that option so hot (again, due to cost.)

0
+ -

I personally was never wowed by the whole 3D thing.

A good HD LED TV and I'm happy.

0
+ -

3D TV technology is in its infancy and until it matures a little bit I will personally be staying away from it. Most consumers just do not see the need to upgrade to 3D televisions. Especially when the only 3D content that is available really is movies on blu-ray disc and they cost anywhere from 30 to 50 dollars.

0
+ -

I'm more concerned with 3D Gaming monitors.  Nvidia has made some great strides with their proprietary hardware and have support with a good number of monitors while AMD is just catching up with few monitors that support their "open 3D".  I heard Samsung was debuting some new 3D monitors and I just hope to find one that supports both companies although that likelihood is slim at the moment.

0
+ -

LBowen:

I'm more concerned with 3D Gaming monitors.  Nvidia has made some great strides with their proprietary hardware and have support with a good number of monitors while AMD is just catching up with few monitors that support their "open 3D".  I heard Samsung was debuting some new 3D monitors and I just hope to find one that supports both companies although that likelihood is slim at the moment.

I agree as well but I don't know if Open 3D is really going to take off (I'm guessing only one 3D monitor supports that at the moment, a ViewSonic.)... Those 3D monitors that support 3D Vision can work with AMD cards with the usage of a iz3D driver, even though it costs money.

I haven't really jumped towards 3D gaming (due to the cost of the glasses) but if I ever decide to jump in then I'll have faith knowing that my monitor can take it.

0
+ -

The first reason that I can think of as to why 3D has had a slow uptake is that most of the population has just recently upgraded to a flat panel TV. People just don't replace TVs like socks; they are considered long term purchases that are expected to last many years.

And then there is the price. As a somewhat early adopter, I paid $850 for a 32" LCD and don't intend to spend any more on another TV until it dies. I imagine I'm not the only one that feels that way.

Login or Register to Comment
Post a Comment
Username:   Password: