Where do we stand with 3DTV?
Jeannette Howe, Specialty Electronics Nationwide (SEN):
One of the things that will hurt 3D as an event this year is the fact that the “Avatar” 3D disc is now tied to a Panasonic television set. There is still no ability to create an event around “Avatar” 3D, which would be a huge driver. [The Consumer Electronics Association] has research showing that when a hot Blu-ray Disc comes to the marketplace, sales increase. When “Dark Knight” came out, a lot of people went out to buy their Blu-ray player and possibly a new television set. We need that kind of event for the 3D side. Without content, it was hard to move those boxes [during the holidays].
Dave Workman, PRO Group:
The biggest objection for customers going to 3D at this point is the glasses and actually having to wear something. The glassless 3DTV will probably come first in small screens because the object will be whether or not they will be able to get the resolution to a point. It will be interesting to see what that does to 3D.
Bernard Luthi, Newegg.com:
I wonder how quickly 3DTV will become just an expectation, where people just expect to buy a TV with 3D technology, so it becomes a feature and not a branded message.
Rick Souder, Crutchfield:
We can get it there in no time.
There was also such a concerted effort to shove the 3D message to the consumer that we may have stepped over some of the more sellable technologies like IPTV and LED.
Going back to that content issue, the industry made a decision that every set would leave the door fully ready. My experience in retail is that bundles only work if the bundle represents something the customer really, really wants.
We needed those upper-end sets to sell in great quantity, which they probably would have done had we stripped out the bundled product and reduced the price. Quite frankly, the customers would have been better off if they had stripped off that stuff and then came back to repurchase the glasses when they need them, or the Blu-ray player when they need it. But the industry was so concerned at the front end about having this poor user experience where people saw fuzzy images and returned the sets, that possibly the bundle was overplayed through the holiday season. This could have hurt the industry in some of those step-up sales.
Fred Towns, New Age Electronics:
Manufacturers were talking a lot about the 3DTV, which, by the way, is a great TV. But to justify the purchase, and because content was so limited — people are tired of watching “Avatar” over and over again — people were exploring the other features and saw that it can do all these other things, too. There’s a big need, again, to educate that customer.
As much as we drink the Kool-Aid of the manufacturer, the need at the retail level is to clear up a lot of the confusion out there. The 3DTV is the best in the house, and it has the ability to do many, many things. There are also many companies out there adding accessories — the boxes that are connecting to TVs to enable all these different features — and all these other products will come in and try to connect in. The consumer wants to know how it works and what they will need. That is the next wave. There are the tablets, the phones and the sets, and the question will be what will make them all share?