Last weekend I saw one of those hyped-up 3D TV displays in the window of an electronics shop in Lons-Le-Saunier, the capital city of the Jura in eastern France. There was a little podium outside the shop on which was mounted a pair of glasses that passersby could look through to view the screen in 3D.
I haven’t heard much about 3D TVs since I left my former job in digital television, and I’d almost forgotten about it. Lons is not a large town; according to the census of 2006 it had less than 18,000 inhabitants. I was surprised to see such a display outside of a major metropolitan area. Curious, I did a few quick Google searches to see how the 3D market was shaping up.
In June, Wired reported that sales were slow, and the industry was blaming Hollywood for having released lame 3D films that were disappointing to viewers. According to Digital Media Wire, in July Kagan predicted that interest in and sales of 3D TVs would decline in 2011. By September, PCWorld was running an article titled Is 3D TV Doomed?, in which they reported that ESPN was considering dropping 3D programming for lack of viewer interest.
What a surprise. People don’t want to wear glasses to watch TV at home, and those that don’t mind realize after a few hours of watching that 3D TV is tiring because our brains weren’t designed to interpret depth in the way it’s represented on these TVs.
Recently both CNET and TVB Europe said that sales for 3D TVs were up but attributed this mainly to the fact that 3D is now a standard feature on most new sets, so anyone who buys a new one gets 3D whether they use it or not. Well, isn’t that a nice way for the marketing guys to save face?
3D TV is a big yawn, but sales are up. Is anybody watching?