NEW YORK - The lack of an industry standard for glasses, and a dearth of content and consumer knowledge, are the biggest obstacles to 3D TV adoption, according to two of the format’s earliest marketplace proponents.
Mike Vitelli, Americas president of Best Buy, and Bob Perry, senior VP at Panasonic, made the observations at the 3DTV2010 Event, at the Roosevelt Hotel, here, that was produced by TWICE and fellow publications from parent company NewBay Media — Broadcasting & Cable, Digital Video, Multichannel News, TV Technology and Videography.
In a one-on-one session with TWICE editor in chief Steve Smith, Vitelli said Best Buy, just weeks into its launch, is pleased with initial 3D TV sales and is encouraged by enthusiastic consumer response.
But as the format reaches a wider audience, he foresees compatibility issues arising as consumers attempt to use their 3D glasses with other people’s TVs.
“The issue isn’t having to wear the glasses — it’s the glasses not working at your friend’s home,” he said. “And we’ll get the first call.”
A related, albeit short-term, challenge for retailers is shrinkage, which he compared to theft of remote controls and headphones from early live displays.
More pressing is the need for simplified functionality and enhanced education, which would help dispel consumer misconceptions about 3D technology, such as the sets’ inability to display 2D content.
The challenge is formidable, Vitelli said, as many consumers are still viewing standard-definition content on their HDTVs, believing it is higher resolution fare.
“We have to make sure that all consumers understand that 3D is a top-ofthe- line feature on 2D sets, and that 3D TVs are the best HDTVs you can buy,” he told a standing-room-only crowd of more than 300 executives from the CE, broadcasting, cable, satellite and content industries.
Vitelli said adoption rates will also depend on how quickly content becomes available, and the quality of what’s offered. Key drivers will be “blockbuster events” that draw mass audiences; specialized “mini events” with narrower reach, such as 3D concerts streamed online; and immersive gaming experiences that generate demand for more screens in various sizes in more places.
In opening remarks, Perry, whose company partnered with Best Buy for the first major rollout of 3D TV earlier this season, implored broadcasters and content providers to “please do it right,” or risk slowing the adoption rate.
“It’s too important to get it wrong with bad 3D execution or bad content,” he said. “We have to thrill the consumer, and can get twice the adoption rate of HDTV if we do it right.”
Perry added that the 3D transition is completely different from and will happen much faster than the HD changeover, due to the broad support of the CE industry and the nature of the 3D experience itself. “When consumers see the 3D demos at retail, it will rock their world,” he said.