Last Updated Dec 22, 2010 10:21 AM EST
Samsung Electronics Co., the world's biggest TV maker by sales, sent a jolt through the industry in the fall when it started offering at warehouse retailer Costco Wholesale Corp. a $900 rebate on a bundle that included some movies, two pairs of glasses and a 55-inch, ultrathin 3-D set with a Blu-ray player, bringing the total to less than $3,000. The TV alone is listed at $3,400 on Samsung's website.
Here's why 3D TV isn't selling.
1. Too Focused on Proprietary Hardware
Everyone wants consumers to buy their special 3D TV and the exclusive 3D glasses that only work on said TV. Of course, the manufacturers' goals here are making as much money as possible by selling every a la carte and promoting brand loyalty because the consumer is spending a ton of money on a specific technology.
In the long run, however, the focus on proprietary hardware here breeds contempt among consumers. As I discussed earlier this year, exclusive 3D TV technology won't work for a few reasons, namely that buying glasses for a family of four is expensive, but buying glasses incompatible with future TVs is ridiculous. At launch, the Panasonic TV started at $2,999.95 and each pair of glasses at $149.95. Consumers are recognizing this issue, especially with Apple (APPL) TV, Google (GOOG) TV, and literally dozens of alternatives to traditional television available today.
A much wiser move would be to agree to a 3D TV standard, not unlike VHS or 1080p, which would allow companies to focus on making the best hardware/software package as opposed to making their 3D technology. As with VHS, companies are going to have to feel the financial pain (and, in this case, flaccid sales) before they actually agree on a standard.
2. Lackluster 3D Content
To make the 3D TV financial commitment, consumers actually need something worthwhile to watch:
- Content providers aren't making 3D shows available
- True 3D films are still very expensive to make
- Consumers don't yet believe 3D is necessary
In a parallel business, mobile manufacturers like Nintendo (NTYDO) and Sharp (SRP) already have glasses-less 3D on deck and plenty of content to go along with it. As more consumers embrace consuming content on the mobile, it's unclear how important 3D TV will be in 2011 -- especially if the manufacturers don't create a standard and the content to go with it.