At least for the moment, it’s hard to even call 3D TV a fad. For that implies, a critical mass of consumers opted to give it a whirl before either they lost interest or hardly anyone followed them in trying it out. But, there isn’t much evidence that’s even happened.
One hint comes in the daily churn of the survey-spin complex. It seems to have been a while since a press release has come out touting how many people will have a 3D set hooked up by, say, 2017. Or, one plugging results of an online survey showing some 98.9% of Americans say they will buy a 3D set this holiday season.
In past years, there would have been much hoopla about the current March Madness being available in 3D or the coming Masters tournament. Maybe the hype was missed for the basketball or is still to come for the golf apogee.
But Web-connected TVs seem to have blown by 3D sets as the new draw consumer electronic marketers are counting on to sell more hardware. And, programmers are surely enticed by the potential the linked sets offer them for social TV initiatives and developing new opportunities to turn the screen into an advertising multiplex.
Pondering on how to capitalizie on connected TV is a lot more appetizing than deciding how to find millions of dollars to launch a 3D network such as ESPN, Discovery and DirecTV have done. If you’re the NBC Sports Network or National Geographic Channel, it may not be the worst thing if 3D TV just sort of fades away.
So for now, until it’s shown people don’t need all capabilities in one device – that they will settle for tweeting on a smartphone while watching an HD set – projections will keep flowing about how Internet-connected TVs will saturate Best Buy showrooms and living rooms.
Data from NPD In-Stat, cited by the Los Angeles Times, shows 100 million homes in North America and Europe will be using a “hybrid” service by 2016. It’s not exactly clear what percentage of homes on those continents that is, but it sounds like a large number.
What the Times suggests is set manufacturers could be in an increasing battle with smartphone and tablet makers to retain video viewing primacy. There’s lots of talk about cable operators losing customers because of cord-cutting, but it doesn’t exactly help a Panasonic or Toshiba if a Netflix/Hulu/ESPN3 combination on a tablet offers someone enough content to drop TV service.
"The TV people figured out nobody's just watching TV anymore," Gerry Kaufhold, NPD In-Stat's digital entertainment research director, told the Times. "They're watching TV with a tablet or a smartphone or a laptop in their hands. They've completely lost control."
Over time, expect more manufacturers and networks to form alliances to try and reassert some of that, while hoping they aren’t doing it as sort of a future-proofing move, which might have led some into the 3D TV realm too ambitiously.