Are 3D TV’s ever going to become a commodity?

Photo by Lars

When the 3D television was launched it was estimated to be a huge success. This was mostly attributed to the great success of the 3D movies in the cinemas; but for the home TV watching audience it was not the case. There are many companies in the market selling 3D television’s such as Panasonic, Samsung and LG, but one of the first ones to launch the 3D TVs, and one of the more “successful” companies selling them, was Sony with a 43.3% market share in the 4th quarter of 2010.

Sony Corporation

This multinational corporation is one of the world’s largest media companies and one of the best-known names in consumer electronics. Its parent company is based in Tokyo and has affiliates and subsidiaries all over the world. It was founded in 1946, when the original founders Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita started a small radio repair shop in Tokyo. In 1955 they produced the first Japanese transistor radio and have since then produced tons of “first” products and new technologically advanced products in the market such as: the walkman, the CD player and the PlayStation game consoles. Due to the diversity of their products, Sony has a lot of other competitors as well: Nintendo, Compaq, Fuji photo and Nokia, which have all pushed Sony to be more competitive and innovative.

When Sony started producing and selling 3D television sets in 2010 they had high hopes for the expected sales. What they did not expect and what contributed to the 3D television failure, was that all these first models was unwatchable without special 3D glasses and that consumers felt uncomfortable wearing glasses when socialising in their own homes. At the end of 2010 almost all the existing sets of 3D TV’s were on sale and the companies had to re-think their strategies.

Sony, as well as its competitors, are planning on increasing their sales of 3D TV’s by 2012 since all of their initial launches had a relatively slow adoption pace; personally, I think that with the new launch of the 3D smartphones, the demand might increase in this specific market.

Reasons for failure

New technological inventions and innovations are always exciting, but what about buying the marketing hype of a product that does not work properly?

One of the main reasons why the 3D TVs were a failure in 2010 was the fact that the viewers automatically had to buy the active shutter 3D glasses to be able to watch their own 3D TV’s. These glasses did not only feel uncomfortable to wear throughout a 3 hour long movie, but they also screened your fellow viewers/family members from the corner of the eye which made the whole experience rather unsociable!

Another reason could be that the price was set so high on these products when launched, that even the “early adopters” were smart enough not to buy them or simply, could not afford to try it out. I think that there was a common understanding among consumers that there would be improvements done to these products rather quickly and that not buying a 3D TV straight away would not be such a bad idea. In the US the 3D TVs were sold for approximately $2000 and even the glasses were sold separately for $150. Imagine a family of 4 or even a couple, who want to invite friends over to watch a film, it is unreasonable. Even the few 3D films out on the market cost more than the “normal” HD films. You would have to change you DVD player, your HD TV and you would have to buy special glasses for everyone in the family to be able to watch a movie in 3D quality. Moreover, since there weren’t a lot of 3D films produced that you could watch, the same applied for the sparsely available 3D film channels.

Brian Mitchell, Founder & CEO of ‘eCoustics.com’, says that “bringing sweeping change to home TV watching takes time, a very long time. It took HDTV about 20 years to achieve market dominance with the help of a government mandate”.

3D TVs have only been out for a couple of years and we do not know what the future holds for us; maybe newer and smarter technical evolutions and innovations with the Smartphones will help push the demand for the 3D television market in the near future, who knows, only time will tell.

 “Believe that anything you can imaging, you can make real” – Sony’s slogan

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