To paraphrase Bob Perry, executive VP of Panasonic, the rollout of 3D TV isn’t like debut of HDTV.
I would add: not by a long shot.
Why? There is more cooperation between the various industries involved — CE, broadcasting, cable, satellite and various parts of the content community.
That was evident by the diverse sellout crowd that gathered to hear Perry and many other leading executives at yesterday’s 3DTV2010 event here in New York. It was presented by TWICE and fellow publications from parent company NewBay Media: Broadcasting & Cable, Digital Video, Multichannel News, TV Technology and Videography; and had executives representing all of those industries in the same room at the Roosevelt Hotel.
While there are still standards issues to be resolved on the broadcast and production side, and the whole issue of incompatible 3D glasses, among others, all the industries learned from the long road to the DTV transition that if they work together and do this right, consumers will buy and their companies will reap the benefits.
The stumbling blocks the new technology faces are threefold, according to NPD Group’s industry analysis executive director Ross Rubin: the glasses (not universal, too pricey, easy to break, etc.); perceived high premiums for 3D TVs; and lack of content.
I’ll take the last one first: content will come and probably more quickly than HD programming, based on what everyone learned in the HD rollout.
3D TV pricing vs. 2D TV is a concern, especially a year after many bought their first HDTV due to the transition and the effects of the recession. But 3D TV is being positioned as the best HDTV you can buy and, down the road, as all of you know, what gets introduced as new technology one year gets improved features the next… and at a much lower price.
Finally, about those glasses, the point was made yesterday that when you ask consumers about wearing glasses to watch 3D at home they say no. But when you poll those same consumers after they seen a 3D movie they like, most say, “well, I’ll wear glasses to watch this movie again.” Universal glasses will come sooner rather than later, but I don’t have any hope that your buddy or your mother-in-law doesn’t sit on a pair and break them.
But the key is consumer education and demonstrations at retail. Isn’t that always the case?
“No one wants a bad in-store experience,” said Fasulo, as he reminded the audience that Sony Stores have held 1.6 million consumer demonstrations on 3D TV since January and shipments to its retail base begins soon. “If we don’t do it right, we won’t eat the fruits of opportunity,” he added.
Now I’m not saying this is an easy proposition - I’ve seen demos this year in some stores would make these guys just shake their heads - but unlike 1997, when the first HDTV was introduced, consumers know more about TVs and more about adapting to new technology than ever before.
If the price is right and the programs are available, the acceptance of 3D TV will be a lot faster than anyone at expects.