3DTV Changes Course

Lukewarm response to 3DTV has prompted manufacturers to recalibrate their marketing and promotion strategies, according to a recent report. But will it be enough?

“Brands are marketing 3D not as a must-have technology but as a desirable feature, similar to the approach they have taken with Internet connectivity,” said Riddhi Patel, IHS iSuppli's director for television systems and retail services, in a press release. Manufacturers believe this approach to promoting 3D allows consumers to decide whether they wish to use the feature when they are ready, while convincing them that their newly purchased television is future-proofed, Patel noted.

Additionally, the report says, more 3D content has been made available since June 2010, and viewing glasses are improving. These efforts will propel 3DTV growth by a spectacular 463 percent to reach 23.4 million units in 2011.

I'm still not buying a 3DTV, though. But I have to give any company — or any group of companies — credit for changing course when technology alone isn't enough. (See: Spare Me the 3D.)

Promoting 3D as a feature is definitely a move in the right direction; it's better than building 3D as a distinct product category. I know people who own HDTVs but haven't gotten around to calling the cable company for HD programming because the new TV is still better than the old one. But I still don't see 3D being a reason to go out and purchase a new TV. It's still just a novelty.

From the business standpoint, though, the course change will benefit manufacturers. According to IHS iSuppli:

    Liquid crystal display (LCD) is still the dominant technology for the 3D TV market, accounting for 83 percent of 3-D TVs sold in 2011, says IHS Suppli. The 3D TV share of the global flat-panel market will continue to rise in the years to come, jumping to 11 percent in 2011 from 2 percent last year, and then doubling next year to 22 percent. By 2015, 3-D TVs will account for 52 percent of flat-panel shipments. To further motivate consumers to buy 3-D TVs, brands are slashing prices. Prices for 3-D TVs fell 9 percent during March 2011 compared to February, according to the US TV Price and Specifications Tracker, a monthly IHS iSuppli service that tracks U.S. TV prices. Within the next year, prices will shift again, in accordance with the feature mix dictated by public preferences at the moment — a process expected to democratize 3-D adoption among consumers in all income brackets.

These are all good moves, but 3DTV still has a problem. The glasses. It's not just that they are expensive, weird-looking, and induce vertigo (in some of us). When's the last time you were able to find the remote control for the TV? Now you have to find the remote and the glasses. Good luck with that.

40 comments on “3DTV Changes Course

  1. SP
    May 6, 2011

    Marketing 3DTV is a big challenge as a common man deosnot see any importance in paying extra for 3d tv. A common man just uses TV for normal entertainment and 3d comes in special category, you can enjoy it for few hours but making TV as fundamentally 3d, not everyone is ready for that. thats why the sale is limited.

  2. DataCrunch
    May 6, 2011

    Many people still have not upgraded their existing TV sets to HDTV.  But the main issue for lack of adoption of 3DTV besides the glasses is that HDTV sets offer some great picture quality already, so there is no real incentive to purchase 3DTV…yet.

  3. Eldredge
    May 6, 2011


       I agree with you – 3D is still just a novelty, and not one I am willing to pay for yet. I've made the transition to HDTV, but not until it had proven to be accepted in the marketplace – and then only for one TV. I don't see 3D as the primary viewing alternative in my house right now.

  4. Anna Young
    May 6, 2011

    SP, you’re right purchasing a 3D TV is not particularly important. Consumers are just about settling down to appreciate the quality and features HDTV present.  I guess we are going to see further price slashing to encourage the sale of 3DTV.

  5. Anand
    May 6, 2011


     I totally agree with you that it's still just a novelty but the predictions are that by 2015, 3D TVs will account for 52 percent of flat-panel shipments. That clearly  suggests that this novely feature will become common feature in future.

  6. t.alex
    May 7, 2011

    3DTV is not really impressive enough without impressive contents. I watched “Thor” recently in 3D and was disappointed though. 

  7. eemom
    May 7, 2011

    I'll start by saying that I am not a fan of 3D, period.  Even if I'm watching a 3D movie in the theater, I always end up with a headache.  That being said, the two problems that exist for those who are not as bias as I am are 1) limited content and 2) price.  Perhaps content will increase / improve over time.  For now, I have watched movies that claim to be 3D, only because there was one or two scenes that were 3D.  Those scenes to me were forced and would have been just as interesting to watch in the traditional 2D.  Content needs to improve, when you call a movie 3D, that feature has to be integral to the movie watching experience. 

    As far as price is concerned, even though the price of 3DTV has dropped, I assume that the manufacturers are still charging a premium for the feature.  Therein lies the problem!  The 3D feature is just not something for which I will pay extra. 

    I agree that reducing the price is a step in the right direction but I just don't think they are there yet.



  8. Adeniji Kayode
    May 7, 2011

    I agree with all the comments so far, the world is still trying to accept HDTV which is yet to find it way into the heart of many people. Slashing price and public enlightenment may aid quick circulation of the 3Dtv .

  9. Parser
    May 7, 2011

    I will start by saying that I love 3D. Clearly to me it is the future of movies, TV and science. At the same time I cannot stand 3D glasses. I force myself to wear them in movie theaters, which I attend maybe 3 times a year (for 3D movies). There are several technologies, which do not require 3D glasses. One is becoming popular with caring devices. I hope this could evolve and improve faster and video producers have to add content in this technology.

    Promoting 3D as a feature is definitely a good move. I could see computer monitors to take a lead over TVs to use one of the 3D technologies. I am estimating more 50% population is watching movies, TV shows and studying science-using computers. Tablet computers (iPad style) have a lot free HD content. Innovating tablets computers to 3D capability would open up huge new market, but certainly glasses are out of question. 

  10. eemom
    May 7, 2011

    That is an interesting perspective.  I don't know how I would feel about 3D if I didn't have to wear those awful glasses.  What exactly give me a headache?  The bad glasses or the 3D technology itself?  If the technology evolves such that we can enjoy 3D content with the naked eye, ones who were not proponents of 3D, such as myself, may be won over.  When/if that happens we may see a public demand for the technology which would justify the price delta.

  11. Nemos
    May 7, 2011

    “These are all good moves, but 3DTV still has a problem. The glasses.”

    Indeed, for that reason the “glasses problem” I dont think the 3Dtv will go further.

    3DTV will be a transition to 180/360**degrees television and that model will dominate to the market furthermore is something that customers expecting to have as soon as possible.

    (**I mean the possibility to view the video/picture in different angles of view.)

  12. itguyphil
    May 7, 2011

    I heard somewhere that there was no need for the glasses with some 3D TVs.

    Check it out:

    Toshiba to Launch No-glasses 3D TV This Year in Japan

  13. Nemos
    May 7, 2011

    Thanks ,  Yes this is better and if it is real 3D I suppose ,it will be succefull.

  14. prabhakar_deosthali
    May 8, 2011

    Some years back a 3D TV was developed in a lab using Laser technology. This TV would create the 3D images in the viewing room in the air using the laser technique. This is similar to some open air laser shows now seen often in some trade shows. I am wondering whether such technology can give a much better viewing experince compared to the current 3D Tvs requiring special glasses to view the content.

  15. Parser
    May 8, 2011

    @ pocharle, There are several systems without glasses and Philips has one also which is used at airports and train-stations.

    With glasses the 3D effect has a very good quality. The systems without glasses have only a few depths (the best has 8) and picture detail resolution goes down about 1/3. Also there is a limit on viewing angle. 

  16. itguyphil
    May 8, 2011

    I think it is legit. The only thing I'm concerned about is the potential damage to the eyes. Research has already shown that rolonged exposure to LCD screens has a negative affect on eyesight long-term. I can only imagine what glasses-less 3D viewing can do?

  17. saranyatil
    May 8, 2011

    I was just thinking 3DTV with glasses is creating a new market for glasses definitely optical industry can gain a new segment to sell their styling ideas and lens.

    Its really going to be a strain to view the 3DTV without glasses it can never give a normal TV vieweing experience.

  18. Mydesign
    May 9, 2011

          Pocharle, we can expect some good 3D developmental news in coming days. Last week Intel announced that, it had again found a way to make chips that could process information more quickly and with less power in less space. The transistors on chips — whether for PCs/TVs or smartphones — have been designed in essentially the same way first integrated circuits that became the basic building block of electronic devices in the information age.

          Company has already begun making its microprocessors using a new 3D transistor design, called a Finfet , which is based around a remarkably small pillar, or fin, of silicon that rises above the surface of the chip. The company’s engineers said that they now felt confident that they would be able to solve the challenges of making chips through at least the 10-nanometer generation, which is likely to happen in 2015.

  19. Jay_Bond
    May 9, 2011

    I'm with you Barbara. Though there are some nice features of a 3DTV, I'm content with my current HDTV and am not going to go out and buy a new flat screen just for 3D. I'm happy that more channels are coming in HD right now. The thought of not only having to wear glasses for viewing and paying for additional glasses based on the size of your household, but having to keep track of these expensive glasses will also help keep 3DTV out of our household.

  20. tioluwa
    May 9, 2011

    I find this post, the comments and especially Barbarah's view very humorious and true.

    However, i still think 3D has the potential to grow.

    first of all 3DTV can be viewed without the glasses, although the most common design is with the glasses. pocharie gives a link to one such Toshiba design

    if the glasses doesn't seam to suite the majority then the manufactureres will be forced to develop the autostereoscopic  design which requres no lens.

    Secondly, there are 3DTVs that can be viewed in HD as well, meaning that it can function as a normal HDTV but when a the viewer wishes to view a 3D movie or anything, a switch is made to 3D.

    I think if we were all able to let go of our CRT for LCD, we can also soon allow 3D take the place of regular LCD or even HD.

    As for danger to the eyes, i remember one of the advantages of LCD marketed to the world was that it was more friendly on the eye as opposed to CRT, so now they blamd LCD for affecting the eyes? Well i don't know. After all the noise about mobile phone causing harmful radiation, has the sales droped in any way?

    So i don't see any medical issue stoping the rise of 3D.


  21. Ariella
    May 9, 2011

    I'm certain that down the road it will be possible to get the 3D effect without glasses. Perhaps it will be possible to lay a type of screen over the television that would reproduce the effect of the glasses.  In the mean time, the TV sellers can offer a package that include, say 4 pairs of glasses with each TV or a coupon toward the purchase of the glasses.

  22. Adeniji Kayode
    May 9, 2011


     you aare right, i feel 3D manufacturers should know that the glasses will be a major issue with a lot of people.

    I mean why should I have to wear a glasses to relax and enjoy a movie. Hope to see a better Mechanism of 3D

  23. Adeniji Kayode
    May 9, 2011

    I certainly agree with the idea of a screen covering the Tv instead of having to wear a glasses for a long time to see a movie.

  24. Adeniji Kayode
    May 9, 2011

    @ Tioluwa:

    I,m yet to see the importance of a 3DTV so far. Ehat could be the future value this can add to consumers and what advantage does it have over HDTV?

  25. Adeniji Kayode
    May 9, 2011

    I agree with you Jay_Bond, I feel the manufacturer should be aware that even if you use recomended glasses, you dont want to wear it all the time talkless of people not using one and must wear one to enjoy their 3d tv.

  26. tioluwa
    May 9, 2011


    What advantage does HD have over ordinary LCD? better picture quality? Well with the old LCDs we were seeing well enough right?.

    I think that question should be answered by those who design 3DTV, i would be interested in hearing their response.

    However, in my opinion, 3D in the home may not be a big deal, but for Cinimas, gaming and maybe cooperate presentations, 3D could be very helpful in giving a better picture.

    I think technology just keeps advancing and designers just have to come up with something new, else they will be out of Job.

    Years ago, some people didn't see any use or hope for a computer in the home.


  27. Taimoor Zubar
    May 9, 2011

    In the mean time, the TV sellers can offer a package that include, say 4 pairs of glasses with each TV or a coupon toward the purchase of the glasses.”

    @Ariella: What happens when you have four family members and another guest pops up? 🙂

    On a serious note, I do agree that manufacturers will change the design of the 3D TV so that the glasses are not needed anymore. Just like Toshiba launched the 3D Notebook that does not require glasses, it's highly plausible that similar technology will come in TV's.

  28. Adeniji Kayode
    May 9, 2011


    Thanks, I hope to see someone answer those questions soon.

  29. Barbara Jorgensen
    May 9, 2011

    Great discussion, all! The tangent on the glasses is especially fun. I think 3D should absolutely be an option for those who want it–I think where the industry went wrong was to market 3D as more than a novelty. Treating it as a standalone category rather than an add-on or as “3D-capability”  is what dampened demand.

  30. tioluwa
    May 10, 2011

    The discussions on this blog made me really think about some great advantage and potential uses of the 3DTV technology.

    ONe thing i've observed is that most tech product marketing strategies focus more on the social, and entertainment features of the products, like the iPHONE, iPAD, even the 3DTV, leaving out some great business and commercial benefits.

    I think the reason for this is the fact that there are greater consumers for such products for their social and entertainment side, as opposed to the coorporate side.

    I'm i right on this?

  31. Barbara Jorgensen
    May 10, 2011

    I think you are right. Another use that occurs to me is medical, although I know x-ray and MRI already use 3D in a different fashion.

  32. tioluwa
    May 10, 2011

    Yeah, and i was also thinking 3D presentations. i don't know if they have them

    I”m sure getting a set of investors to wear 3D glasses in a show room to showcase a 3D view of a project like a building or a new gadget will not be asking too much.


  33. Hardcore
    May 10, 2011

    I'm normally all for new fangled technology, especially if it  has the possibility to improve the lot of every day folks.

    Recently I was in the market for a new TV, having used the same good o'l CRT Toshiba for the last 15 years, unfortunately the cost in tax & per KG shipping charges for re-exporting it out of China did not justify keeping the pre-century Leviathen.

    So off I toggled down to  the local Hong Kong TV store with my hands full with wads of sweaty cash, only to find that it would not go quite as far as if I were purchasing a  CRT device.

    3D sets abound in a Hong Kong TV retailer, complete with settee and wheel able sets so that the merits of each can be judged without ever moving from the seat, even the goggles came with their own  solid cast iron stand, so that the exact position and distance could be calculated from the set.(unfortunately the stands were not part of the kit, but were supplied by the manufacturers to ensure that absolutely the best viewing angles could be experienced)

    As can be expected once the goggles were removed, the pictures displayed extensive ghosting, which was far to distracting to enable any sort of enjoyment without the goggles.

    Moving onto the sets that had 3D technology 'built in' via the use of some cleaver angled plastics within the display ,so that the pictures could be offset source,  even with the added pleasure of ensuring my wife needed to be sat on my lap during TV viewing to ensure that the viewing pleasure remained consistent, the sets were ruled out.

    Finally I settled on a Sharp LED digital set,  with no goggles and no 3D functions, just basic 1080 HD viewing.

    Apart from the first set they delivered being defective (no 'red' LED's for 25% column of the screen), I have been really impressed with the technology, and even with 1080 HD, the picture seems to be  more 'real' than an ordinary CRT or LCD monitor , and with it being LED I do not have any stupidity with situations of the  Sun shining through the window  and flooding the picture. 

    To top it all off, the Instruction manual informs me that the TV is running Linux as the underlying OS, with U-Boot and a number of other Open software solutions (source code available on the Sharp website), which would indicate that the set is 'hackable', with the possibility of adding extra peripherals via the external USB port. (network/ WiFi, external storage etc)

    So If TV's have come this far in less than a Decade, I think I will hold on before buying my next set, which may finally include 'real' 3D




  34. Adeniji Kayode
    May 11, 2011


    you are right, the world of entertaiment is what bind us all together the most at one time or the other and then people tend to spend so much to get entertained.I think it,s in our nature as human being.

  35. Adeniji Kayode
    May 11, 2011

    I agree that might be a useful application of 3D Tv any way. Time will reveal more use of it, lets wait and see.

  36. mfbertozzi
    May 11, 2011

    Discussions on 3D have started a long ago and researches as well. It seems first 3D film presentation has been held at the beginning of past century. I enclose the link for your interest, it is very amazing.

    Having said that, 3D market is not ramping at all; comparing other sectors (i.e. mobile devices and so on), we are still using a primitive technology (glasses) to watch 3D movies; it is a matter of end users costs or people are not interested in 3D due to consolidate feeling with traditional “aspect ratio”?

  37. Kunmi
    May 18, 2011

    I do not think 3D has gotten any world wide acceptance. Where glasses before you can enjoy the taste of a product is irrelivant to me as a person. We do not have enough time to hang around a device and kitting up. For the people taht have time and derive pleasure in it…. it may be a top nouch! Cost is another whip that scares away the customers.

  38. mfbertozzi
    May 18, 2011

    Well, I trust your point of view in particular speaking about end users. Even it wasn't main focus of editorial from Barbara, I believe 3D movie and similar technologies could bring strong help in other sectors, medical imaging for example. Such kind of feature shall potentially represent a worldwide application of 3DTV if we consider distance healthcare or telemedicine.

  39. mfbertozzi
    May 19, 2011

    Have investigated just a bit more and found, according to specialized players as, 3D TV or imaging is in effect a worldwide market. Its size was estimated about 4billion US$ by 2012. Maybe, while we are still waiting definitive launch and success for endusers, the only 3D sector with similar market's size can be home gaming. Personally, in the short-medium term, I don't see other directions.

  40. elctrnx_lyf
    May 20, 2011

    I always doubt if there is any enough conusmer base ready for this. Before actually this technolgy is taken to individual consumers, the 3D TV makers should actually cosnider promoting the technology in a different market segments like huge displays in shopping malls. I've also recently seen the LG promotion with light weight glassess and very good viewing feel of their 3D TV's. Do any one actually experienced this ..

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