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3D TV pessimists blind to the future; 3D TV will be booming
by Ryan Roff on October 14, 2010
Resounding pessimism seems to be buzzing around the 3D TV market. It wasn’t long ago that Avatar made its debut in 3D and got the whole world excited about maybe, just maybe having the same type of experience at home; TV manufacturers like Samsung started producing 3D TVs in bulk quantities and content providers started looking for movies, sports, and television shows to broadcasts in 3D. The perfect match had been formed: 3D TV manufacturers with mainstream media outlets. Now, not more than a year later, consumers are beginning to defame the coming of age of the 3D TV and its content comrade, but is it already time to kill the 3D TV and leave 3D content only for the big screen?
Perhaps the honeymoon is over with 3D TVs, but before counting them out just yet, it may be worth looking at the bigger picture.
A few common negative threads seem to exist among all 3D TV naysayers.
First, the 3D glasses, required for just about every 3D TV, are cumbersome, uncomfortable, and most of all, expensive. Look at just about any negative comment about the 3D TV and 3D glasses just about always surface as a concern. Priced at over $100, few want to add a set of glasses to an already expensive TV. In fact, according to DisplaySearch, most countries have a lower than 1:1 ratio of glasses to 3D TVs. That means that 3D TV buyers may not be buying a single pair of glasses with their brand new 3D TV. Additionally, the glasses are big and a bit awkward making the viewing experience a bit less enjoyable to the touch.
Second, and perhaps most evident early on, 3D content hasn’t generated nearly the amount of options many were hoping for when the 3D TV debuted. Scaled up a bit from last year, between 2 to 3 studio-developed 3D movies are released every month. As for 3D TV channels, ESPN 3D launched in June to catch the World Cup and be the first of its kind and already several major sporting events on major networks have been broadcasted live in 3D. Other content is available sporadically and on ON DEMAND, but it is certainly not to the point where browsing TV stations in 3D is a legitimate option.
Finally, the cost of LED 3D TVs are far and away more expensive than the current plasma, LCD, and LCD LED TVs. Just look at comparable sizes of TVs with and without 3D. The relative newness of the 3D models has the early adopters buying up a small piece of the total TV market, and until it goes more mainstream, the prices will continue to be high.
Perhaps the biggest driver of the recent pessimism and negativity towards 3D has been the statistics and adjusted forecasts by DisplaySearch. DisplaySearch scaled back their estimates of the sales of 3D TVs by about 200,000 for 2010. Additionally, DisplaySearch estimates that 3D TVs will only account for about 2% of all TV sales in 2010.
Paul Grey of DisplaySearch accredits the scale back to the “huge price jump and little 3D content to watch.” Sound familiar?
Although DisplaySearch needed to scale down its 2010 estimates, its outlook for the future growth of 3D TVs is astonishingly optimistic. It predicts by 2014 that 3D TVs will account for 41% of all TV sales.
The current landscape of 3D TVs is certainly not nearly as developed as many were anticipating, but just about every concern will be answered in the next few years. There is no reason to count out 3D TVs with where it is headed.
Already, TV manufacturers like Toshiba have started developing and showcasing 3D TVs without the need for glasses. The technology needs to be refined and advanced, but in the next few years, 3D may by glasses-free, eliminating the need for the awkward face wear.
As for content, it is a matter of time before several TV channels air 24/7 3D content and studios plan for even more 3D movies to go on top of the existing 3D movie selection. TV manufacturers fully understand the partnership that needs to exist between 3D TV manufacturers and 3D content. Already, Sony partnered with IMAX and Discovery for Discovery 3D that is to start broadcasting in 2011. The three companies have already started staffing for the 3D channel. Additionally, broadcasters are just learning how to capture the true essence of 3D programming through the camera lens. It is apart of the growing pains.
Price, just like any product life cycle, will drop once the supply goes up as other manufacturers get into the market and offer more 3D TV options. Some of the big name companies already offering a full lineup of 3D TVs include Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, LG, and Toshiba. It wont be long before even more companies jump in.
Those pessimistic about the outlook of 3D TVs are overly focused on the current landscape of products and content available now. 3D has some advancements that need to be made and content that needs to be continually developed, but in the next few years, it will be the vibrant market for TV manufactures.