Whether or not 3D is a fad or an evolution for home and personal entertainment is yet to be known, but one thing is for sure: consumer electronics companies want it to become their next cash cow. For that to happen however, 3D must first overcome some of the usual hurdles new technologies face and more.
Another certainty for many electronics manufacturers is that if 3D doesn’t take off, their sizeable investments in the technology could cause them serious long term profitability and performance issues.
Evaluating the obstacles and their solutions
Like many new technologies, 3D faces numerous obstacles before it can gain widespread acceptance. Until those obstacles are sufficiently overcome or neutralized, vendors will continue facing profitability challenges that can prove weighty over time.
Some of the obstacles to the adoption of 3D may seem familiar to some because they are similar to those faced by virtually every new trend in consumer electronics. Consumer electronics companies must deal with these obstacles successfully in order to generate the sales needed to make 3D profitable.
1. Obstacle: the glasses. People who are accustomed to flopping down on the sofa with the remote control are immediately confronted with one of the limitations of 3D; at least up until now: the glasses. Whether cheap passive glasses or pricey active glasses are used, they are cumbersome and have bad publicity for causing headaches or requiring a particular alignment of a viewer’s head.
Solution: glasses-free designs. Although new glasses-free designs are coming out, getting the word out to overcome the stigma of the glasses may take some time.
2. Obstacle: reluctance. Consumers tend to be slow to adopt new technologies for fear of losing their investment. Competing standards for high definition optical disks, for example left consumers who purchased HD-DVD devices holding the bag.
Solution: standards and support. Consumer electronics companies must be assured that their 3D devices are compatible with their existing hardware and that their new 3D devices will not become obsolete overnight. Part of this is making sure enough accessories and other supporting products are available to create a safe and satisfying user experience.
Until the industry settles on standards for 3D technology and it becomes clear that an investment in 3D will not be nullified overnight, consumer adoption will probably remain sluggish.
3. Obstacle: no compelling need. Many consumers have experienced 3D movies and are aware that the technology never took off because of soft demand. Generally, people in the past have considered the benefits of viewing content in 3D as insufficient to warrant the extra hassle required to make it work.
Although new 3D technology may be superior to past implementations and glasses-free devices will likely become the eventual standard, overcoming consumer complacency concerning 3D is still necessary before 3D can become profitable.
4. Obstacle: limited selection of content. Content providers are probably equally reluctant to adopt 3D, in ways that mirror consumer reluctance.
Solution: Content providers must be convinced that 3D is here to stay and that sufficient profits to guarantee profitability are possible.
When consumer electronics companies are able to assure consumers that their investment in 3D is safe, valuable, and enjoyable, profitability will soon follow.