Smart TV has moved on from 3D: IDC

Analyst firm finds 3D functionality is no longer important to Smart TV buyers

1987’s <i>Predator</i> has been converted to 3D for home video.

1987’s Predator has been converted to 3D for home video.

3D functionality is not a priority for Smart TV customers, according to IDC.

Despite the hype generated by the release of James Cameron's Avatar in 2009, IDC ConsumerScape 360 and consumer primary research director, Michael DeHart, said 3D now rates low for consumers.

“Our ConsumerScape 360 survey looked at the relative importance of 3D, compared to other factors, such as brand, video quality, and audio quality, and found that even amongst 3D TV purchasers, 3D is not a compelling factor,” he said.

“3D TV was the second least important factor, the very least important being connectivity on TVs.”

More tellingly, DeHart points to outside research that found people who used a 3D TV for two to three hours as a trial before purchase were almost three times more likely to not buy a one.

“Issues revolve around lack of content, price of additional viewing glasses, and not wanting to have to wear viewing glasses at home,” he said.

Mining back catalogues

While the research shows that consumers are not interested in 3D, film studios continue to release 3D films in cinemas before they are released on Blu-Ray.

In addition to new releases, film studios are turning to their back catalogue and turning 2D films into 3D, such as 1987’s Predator from 20th Century Fox.

Read more: Operating revenue down, but profits are up at IBM NZ

Instead of 3D films being a response to demand, DeHart said it is more of a case of studios throwing mud at the wall to see if some of it will stick.

“This is an issue that runs far deeper than just TVs,” he said.

“Consider how ‘important’ Mobile TV was at one point, yet now no one even talks about it.”

While the research may paint a sobering view of 3D video, DeHart said it does have a future.

At the same time, he said “significant hurdles” have to be overcome for 3D to be more than the niche it currently occupies.

“Newer technologies allowing for viewing sans glasses may help, but until availability of content is better combined with no need for glasses, 3DTV will remain a trivial offering for most HDTV purchasers and considerers,” DeHart said.

Patrick Budmar covers consumer and enterprise technology breaking news for IDG Communications. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_budmar.

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