Old School: New Roxio Software Brings 1950s 3D Tech To Customers

Last Updated Aug 25, 2010 12:31 PM EDT

Digital photo manager Roxio announced its new Creator 2011 suite will let users create 3D videos and images. The problem: It requires virtually the same cheap, headache-inducing 3D glasses used in 1953's It Came From Outer Space. By offering neither glasses-free options nor Avatar-inspired technology, Roxio has managed to be both forward thinking and bass ackwards at the same time.

Roxio Creator 2011 seems to offer the worst of both worlds. As I've argued previously, glasses-free 3D technology makes the barrier to customers much lower. First, the product is usually cheaper since the customer isn't required to purchase glasses. Second, the customer doesn't have to do anything to enjoy the product -- and isn't required to do additional work, such as buying more glasses, to share the product with others. An excellent example of glasses-free 3D is the upcoming Nintendo (NYTDO) 3DS. As critics have noted, the challenge here is that the 3D quality is below the glasses-enabled options. Roxio's paper glasses format would be well below even glasses-free products and, worse, wouldn't be enjoyable without them.

On the other hand, the high-end 3D glasses -- as close as one might get from an Avatar 3D movie experience -- are being pushed by Panasonic (PT), Sony (SNE) and other television industry leaders. The challenge with 3D glasses, of course, is the price point. As previously noted, the Panasonic TV/glasses system will run several thousand dollars for a family of four.

The other, less obvious issue is that each manufacturer is creating a proprietary system. In other words, the expensive Panasonic glasses aren't guaranteed to work on the Sony Bravia TVs, and so on. Companies like Monster are offering universal 3D solutions, but they haven't become an industry standard yet -- and it still requires users to spend more money for their special glasses. Roxio manages to dodge the price and compatibility issues, but how many of the $1 billion-plus Avatar ticket purchasers want to jump back to fifties "technology"?

Roxio has the right idea with the wrong execution. Indeed, Sharp (SRP) has created 3D tech specifically for cell phones, Intel (INTC) and Nokia (NOK) are investing heavy in 3D interfaces and 3D televisions, which would be ideal for viewing photos and videos, are becoming a standard in 2010. But even hipsters wouldn't find irony in using paper 3D glasses again -- and the average Avatar-weaned customer won't even bother.