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3DTV: What Would Captain Jack Say?

“There will be nearly 50 million 3DTV displays sold worldwide in 2015, up from just over 3 million in 2010, according to one forecast.”  March 7, 2010

“. . . market research firm _____ has doubled its forecast for 3D TV sales in 2010. The firm’s previous prediction of 1.2 million sets sold this year has been revised upward to 2.5 million, with a forecast of 27 million units sold in 2013.”  April 11, 2010

“A study conducted by ______, has predicted that 3D TV set sales will almost reach the 6 million mark in 2010.” July 8, 2010

“(Reuters) – Fancy new features like 3D screens and Internet connectivity have failed to inspire U.S. television shoppers, dashing a hoped-for recovery in the global consumer electronics industry.”  December 14, 2010

What a difference a few months makes.

3DTV market size rhetoric has swung from doubling forecasts to words such as “failed” and “dashing”, (the latter having nothing whatsoever to do with how many would describe Captain Jack Sparrow.)

And it’s not just the order of magnitude of forecast change, which, admittedly is significant. More disturbing, at least to me, are the current crop of observations accompanying the latest, now more pessimistic forecasts, all meant, I suppose, to explain what (has not) happened.

“There was confusion about 3D early on.  It was a little short on content.”

“People don’t understand the added benefit of 3D.”

I purposely call that disturbing because if those in responsible industry positions who say such things, really believe they are explaining the current market, little if anything will improve.

A “little short” on content?  People don’t “understand” 3DTV?

Let’s be honest; there is no content, at least not enough from the perspective of the number of consumers necessary to actually sell 3 million units, not to mention 6 million.

And confusion leading to consumers who do not understand the benefit of 3DTV?  That’s what we say when others won’t buy what we want to sell them.  “They just don’t get it“, the unsaid implication being, “and it’s not my fault they don’t.”

If ever there was a new CE technology category name that the vast majority of U.S. consumers from 10 to 100, actually do “get” “3DTV” is it. Oh, they get it all right; they just aren’t buying it up to the industry’s way too unreasonable, optimistic projections.

So what do consumers say?  The following comes from consumers in response to the above quotes:

“Hogwash. Short on content – as was high definition when it landed. But, the bang for your buck that HD provided vs. SD was sufficient to build a base. 3D ain’t cutting it – even among TV geeks like me. I don’t need the glasses and I especially don’t need to buy extra glasses for times when I have friends drop in and we decide to watch a show – and it’s in 3D.” 

“At the moment I’m perfectly happy with my 2-year old flat screen HDTV. Now I can actually see the hockey puck! Don’t tell me it’s time to plunk down another two grand.”

“There is nothing real or satisfying about 3D TV. I look around me and the images I see look nothing like the images from a 3D TV. Even if I thought 3D TV was worth the money, I have a real hard time with having to have glasses for everybody, plus none of the glasses work with other manufacturers TVs. How would you ever have a super bowl party?”

“People don’t understand the added benefit of 3D.”  What added benefit? There IS no added benefit! It’s just a regular TV that you have to wear some goofy-looking glasses to watch shows on. Of course nobody’s going to buy it, especially for $2,000! If I’m gonna fork over two grand for something I don’t need, I’ll get some plastic surgery, thank you.”

My point is not that 3DTV will ultimately fail.  Over time, assuming improvements in product and increasing 3D content, and most of all, a complete marketing effort for both hardware and content that is currently missing, it can happen.

However those are big assumptions given the industry’s DNA of technology first, little or nothing other than lower price, later.

In other words, it’s time to rethink 3DTV marketing, top to bottom, looking for new ways.

Or as (consultant) Captain Jack Sparrow said to William Turner:

“You want you to find this, because the finding of this finds you incapacitorially finding and or locating in your discovering the detecting of a way to save your dolly belle, ol’ what’s-her-face. Savvy?

William Matthies is the CEO of Coyote Insight ( and can be reached at [email protected] or at 714 726-2901. Visit Business Wisdom at