Speaking at a recent industry conference, Disney CEO Bob Iger said at this point it is “way too early to write 3D’s epitaph.” Iger was referring to the film industry, not television, but many continue to question how significant a player 3D is going to be in the TV biz.
I saw one reason why recently when I visited a Magnolia Home Theatre store at a Best Buy in a pretty nice section of Los Angeles. I went into the store to start shopping for a new flat-screen TV and was actually helped by the store manager.
I told him the dimensions I needed and what kinds of shows I like to watch, and let him start pitching me. He showed me three or four different sets that fit the bill of what I needed, touting everything from how thin the screens were to the built-in interfaces for things like Skype, Netflix and Hulu.
The entire time he was talking, I kept waiting for it, and it never came: any mention of 3D. When he got to the end of his pitch, I asked him why he had just shown me a few TVs that were all 3D sets, but he never once mentioned that as a selling point.
He just started laughing. “The truth? No one cares about 3D,” he said.
When I started quizzing him about what he and his salespeople were hearing on the floor, he basically said that a year ago, it was all about 3D. They were pushing it hard with displays everywhere on the floor, and tons of customers-especially those looking to spend more money-were asking about it.
Today, he said, that buzz has totally worn off. He wasn’t sure if it was the lack of 3D programming (the classic chicken and egg dilemma), the fact people still have to wear glasses or whatever else, but he told me people just aren’t much interested in the technology any more. Or yet.
Best Buy’s show floor reflected that, as I only saw one 3D display, which looked like it had been there for about 18 months. The signage was beat up, the video showing was from the last Olympics, and the batteries in the glasses available to watch the 3D picture were dead.
The networks that have 3D keep touting it, but if retailers aren’t holding up their end of the bargain, the 10-year horizon that HD took for mass penetration may seem like a pipe-dream for 3D.