Lessons We Can Learn from the Demise of 3D TV

02/15/2017 12:32 pm ET

LG and Sony decided to join Samsung in not making any 3D-enabled televisions in 2017. The announcement will quickly render every 3D Blu-ray, obsolete. Although at this point, the very mention of physical media feels like harkening to a previous era. And yet, over 6, 500 fans have signed a petition desperately imploring LG to revive 3D in 2018

The 3D Journey

Enjoying 3D movies in the comfort of one's home was initially very appealing. The biggest problem is that most manufacturers did not implement it correctly and many of the films were merely 2D with a few gimmicky scenes tagged on. Ultimately, a lack of quality content destroyed any enthusiasm for this technology.

Moreover, adoption is heavily reliant on simplicity and not looking like a fool when using it. Nobody wants to be the guy walking around a supermarket wearing a pair of Google Glasses or a Bluetooth cell phone headset. That's why we shouldn't be too surprised that families weren't too keen on the idea of wearing silly glasses together when watching a film.

Affordability is another fundamental element to the success of any product. Glasses that cost nearly $100 a pair compounded by an expensive subscription to a cable package left most people thinking: Do I really need this in my life?

Sometimes the failure to adopt a technology is attributed to timeliness. The technology was ahead of its time, some will say. 3D has desperately been trying to achieve mainstream adoption around every five years since the fifties. But the future is leaning toward augmented reality and VR, so maybe this really is the end of the line for 3D in our homes?

3D TV Had A Good Run

At present, the TV industry is focused a new range of technology and gimmicks, such as 4K, HDR, and ubiquitous smart features. This range of technologies marks a stark departure from what the TV industry once was, and from our traditional viewing habits. How often do you watch a television show at its scheduled time or even look at the ads, which cost millions of dollars to air? It is already nearly unthinkable not to view our favorite show when we want to, free from ads.

In fact, the TV set is no longer the focal point in living rooms and households; the smartphone is. These changes are enabling YouTube to take viewers away from the TV sets and onto their mobile devices. This fact of digital culture is a takeaway that VR and AR sponsors should note.

There are more than a few parallels between these new and old technologies. For example, expensive hardware that can cause nausea represent two huge drawbacks that will undoubtedly prevent mainstream adoption.

The fad of Curved TV sets is expected to meet a similar fate sooner rather than later. Once again, the combination of being overpriced and impractical ensures that consumers fail to see the value.

For example, when you purchase a TV, the number one item on your list of requirements is picture quality. Curved sets failed to offer any enhancements in picture quality leaving users feeling underwhelmed once the hype passed.

In Sum

This cycle of being wowed by incoming technology in theory and underwhelmed when it is on the market is so recursive as to be predictable.

For ten months of the year, every tech news site will heavily promote rumors about the next iPhone spec. Once it is available, however, they spend the remaining two months explaining why it is just like the last update.

As someone that has been around the block a time or two and seen people fooled into buying the same music album or movie 3-5 times, my advice is to adopt a wait-and-see approach.

Of course, the early adopters among you probably won’t listen. And that’s fine. Just don’t complain when the product isn’t what you expected. That’s the burden of being one of the first. As for the rest of us, we’ll step back and wait until the fruit ripens.

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