The use of 3-D technology in mobile has so far largely been limited to pricey, console-style games aimed at the few hardcore gamers willing to play on their phones. But that will change in the very near future, according to a new report from GigaOM Pro (sub. required), as new chipsets, motion sensors and software effectively help convert 2-D content into 3-D. So app developers and other content providers will need to be ready to leverage the advancing technology with 3-D offerings for which consumers will pay.
A host of factors will fuel the mobile 3-D fire over the next few years as consumers increasingly lean on their phones for much more than just voice and text messaging. Improvements in display technology and the expansion of 3G — and eventually 4G — networks will enable rich visual experiences for wireless users, and the emergence of Internet and browser-based standards will lower the bar for players looking to deliver more sophisticated apps to handsets. And since phones are typically equipped with cameras and location sensors, they’re particularly well suited for augmented reality apps and other offerings that can fully leverage 3-D to provide an immersive experience on the go.
But the eye-popping hardware won’t find an audience if mobile publishers and developers can’t create compelling content that takes advantage of the stuff. NTT DoCoMo, for instance, launched a 3-D phone with Sharp in 2003 that sold an impressive 2.8 million units in a year, but the handset failed to gain long-term traction due to a lack of available 3-D mobile content. So developers must come up with a 3-D hit in mobile — a true made-for-mobile game, say, or made-for-mobile video clips — that can demonstrate not just what the slick technology can do, but how it adds value to mobile content. A runaway 3-D mobile hit may take a year or two to emerge, but it would likely spur rapid growth of other immersive offerings for wireless consumption. And mobile players who aren’t ready with their own 3-D content will be left behind.
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