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Summary:

Let’s face it, there are some skeptics out there when it comes to 3-D.  Some point to competing standards, others to the kitsch factor, and almost all point to the glasses. But not everyone’s a hater. In fact, Sony and Panasonic see the technology as a […]

3dLet’s face it, there are some skeptics out there when it comes to 3-D.  Some point to competing standards, others to the kitsch factor, and almost all point to the glasses. But not everyone’s a hater. In fact, Sony and Panasonic see the technology as a savior for their living room business. So will 3-D make it in the home?  Chances are it will, and here are five reasons why:

1. 3-D will become a standard feature. TV makers will put a premium price on anything 3-D in the next few years (much as they did with HD), as Alfred Poor points out in his new 3DTV report at GigaOM Pro (subscription required); but over time, the technology will become just another standard feature. Chances are in five years we’ll see $799 50-inch 3-D TVs from Vizio at Costco.

2. Invasion of the 3-D movie theaters. 3-D movies are bringing in higher per-screen revenues than their 2-D counterparts, and by the end of this year there should be 7,000 3-D screens worldwide. Hollywood has caught 3-D fever, and it’s logical to think the big focus on 3-D in the theater will migrate over time to the living room.

3. Those crazy gamers. Gamers have been enjoying crude 3-D effects since Wolfenstein 3-D, and more and more are being pulled into a new dimension with the latest 3-D technology.  Sony has stated that existing game catalogs will be 3-D upgradeable through software, which could build the library of content quickly and justify the cost of accessories such as glasses.

4. Cheap glasses. While active shutter glasses would set you back at least 50 bones today, prices will fall through the floor once they’re manufactured at scale.  Think four-packs at Wal-Mart for $25 in about five years.

5. Kids. 3-D’s secret weapon, really. I have to wonder how many 3-D skeptics are child-less. Just as tens of millions of parents came down with Wii tennis elbow in recent years, so will they be donning 3-D glasses in the future.

3-D in the home will continue to be a source of both skepticism and excitement in the coming years. But make no mistake, as both the DVD and HDTV gravy trains continue to slow to a crawl, TV makers and Hollywood are seeing an extra dimension.

It’s 3-D week over at GigaOM Pro. So come over to read our report on 3DTV, and tune in tomorrow for a new report on 3-D virtual worlds in the enterprise.Subscription required.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Woodvines.

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  1. Like anything that requires behaviour change without giving a revolutionary benefit, 3D TV with spazzy glasses is destined to fail.

    I am sure there are other niches (like medical) that could become mainstream markets but entertainment television it aint.

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    1. @Rodolfo – I’m guessing you don’t have kids :)

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    2. I agree with Rodolfo. I think these companies will have a hard time getting people to wear glasses just to watch television. Movies I can see, especially in theaters, but I don’t think you will see families sitting around all wearing goofy looking glasses. We can barely get people to subscribe to HD service when they have an HDTV, how are you going to convince them to get 3-D service and glasses for their whole family. I think, in the home, 3-D is a niche at best.

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      1. I actually think 3D in inherently easier for consumers to understand than HD. Going back 10 years (some would say even 5 years), you would be hard pressed to get a consumer to accurately describe what high definition meant. Some still have trouble. On the other hand, most consumers could tell you, and probably know almost instantly, what is meant when you say 3D.

        As for the glasses, I think we’ll be surprised what consumers will do for new entertainment experiences in the home. I bet if you said a few years ago tens of millions of 50+ year old consumers and retirees would soon play tennis or boxing with motion sensing controllers, we’d have all laughed.

        I think the same applies for 3-D glasses today. With 3-D, seeing is believing.

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  2. My thesis on this one is that a logical beachhead for this stuff is the iPhone Platform, where you could have glasses that plug into your iPhone, iPod Touch or iTablet (when it comes out), and operate in either 3D overlay mode or Virtual Reality immersive mode.

    If interested, here is a post that I wrote on the topic:

    3D Glasses: Virtual Reality, Meet the iPhone
    http://bit.ly/7WqGi

    Mark

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  3. I definitely think that the gamers will be leading this charge, after all the only other demographic, I believe to be enthralled by 3D are five year olds at Disney World.

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  4. Interestingly I’m unconvinced in the gaming area – particularly first person shooters. I have a 3d vision system and while it’s cool and all that, the locking of the frame rate to half the refresh rate of the display is very limiting. In normal mode I’m used to 250+ frames per second which together with other parameters make for a great experience. In my 3d case I am locked down to 60 frame per second (120Hz display) and the experience is not the same.

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