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.