The New York Times just ran a story about the push to make 3D televisions, and how that’s going to change the whole television and consumer electronics industry.
To this, I say bullshit. Complete and utter bullshit. 3D is no closer to being a viable home technology than smell-o-round
Many people are skeptical that consumers will suddenly pull their LCD and plasma televisions off the wall. … But programmers and technology companies are betting that consumers are almost ready to fall in love with television in the third dimension.
You’ll note that the article doesn’t quote any of the skeptics. Nor does it quote any actual consumers or people who might be willing to pay over $2,000 for the privilege of being a 3D television guinea pig.
In fact, the bulk of the article is little more than a pro-industry press release, cheerleading the greatness of 3D television. Well, I’ve got some advice for you, little buddy… nobody in the near future is going to trade up. Certainly not in the numbers these executives are salivating over.
This is my favorite quote in the whole article:
“I think 90 percent of the males in this country would be dying to watch the Super Bowl and be immersed in it,” said Riddhi Patel, an analyst at the research firm iSuppli.
Nimrod. This guy, like most analysts, doesn’t have a clue. On paper, perhaps, you could find a bunch of dudes who would say that watching football in 3D would be cool. On paper you’ll also find that 90 percent of guys want a Ferrarri and a supermodel. In practice, though, 90 percent of guys also know that Ferrarris and supermodels are way too high maintenance to be worth the cash they’ll have to lay out.
You find me a group of guys not playing XBOX who are going to sit around a television wearing stupid glasses all afternoon to watch a three hour football game, and I’ll show you Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny. Even when the game is on, rabid fans are still getting up for beer, bathroom breaks, or getting nagged by the wife for checking their fantasy football scores. By the fourth time you pull off your 3D glasses because you feel like a tool standing in the kitchen, squinting at your iPhone and rummaging through the fridge, the blush of novelty will have long worn off.
So, before rambling on and on about how every straight male in America can’t wait for a 3D television, re-phrase the question. Don’t just ask about 3D. Ask how they’d feel about paying a $1000 premium to have to sit in a limited viewing range wearing dumb-ass glasses that darkens the image, just to watch something in a pretend 3D. If you can hit the 90% number with a true assessment of the product, I’ll eat my hat. Add in the $100 cost for an extra pair of glasses, and the wildly high overestimate will halve.
There’s two market segments that would have any legitmate interest in this at all – gamers and children. Nobody else watches TV – not even the Super Bowl – with the intent, focussed interest that makes the hassle of wearing glasses worth while.
Until there’s a true 3D option – which means no glasses, no limited viewing range – 3D is a gimmicky non-starter. That means, ironically, turning television back into the equivalent of theater.