The Buzz May Be 3D TV, But the Real Honey is Elsewhere

Nobody doubts the biggest buzz coming from CES was about 3D TV. Everyone was impressed with the new-found commitment that major manufacturers made to adopting 3D. Few will dispute the “inevitability” of 3D TV.

But I want to make it clear that 3D was the buzz and not the honey of CES.

Sure, there were impressive 3D TV demos from Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, LG, Sharp, Toshiba and Vizio (a market leader in US, but unknown here in Europe.) ESPN, Discovery and Turner broadcasting will announced channels of 3D content.  But if you are in retail, the sting that is real money in 3D is a long way off.

TV makers are all buzzing because buzzing creates excitement, but this is one of those technologies that takes a lot of time to develop the infrastructure, to solve the issues of standards, content, and consumer need.  Think “desktop publishing,” think “wireless audio,” and think of any other product category that took so, so long before it finally came to mass market that people were exhausted from hearing about it.
No one would talk about pricing (each company is waiting for the competitor to announce first) but these 3D sets will command premium pricing. And they are selling in the wake of recent replacement sales, the mass market upgrade to HD.

DisplaySearch projects the 3D sales forecast. Look at 2010, then look at 2015 when it finally ramps up.

3d_tv_shipments_displaysear

Oh, did someone say “glasses?” Oddly enough, I think there will eventually be opportunity for dealers in the glasses.

That’s possible if you think of Hollywood’s big screen ambition for 3D and the industry’s ability to turn geek frames into fashion items. (Look what Monster Cable has done with Beats headphones, if you want to see how Hollywood can help you to steamroll tech into fashion.)  Behind the 3D buzz, the real attraction at CES is the resurgence of TV technology and 3D was only a part of that story.

In addition to 3D, you saw at CES:

• Internet-connected TV
• TV App stores hoping to duplicate iPhone’s success
• Skype-enabled TVs to add IP telecom benefits
• Power-saving Green Technology
• Passport-thin Screens
• Edge-lit dimming a la Philips
• New color tech, specifically Sharp’s RGB+Y tech
• Wireless HDMI

From Skype-enabled TV, to wireless HDMI, to internet Apps, the TV is marching like the colossus it is to regain its title (in a digital world) as the ultimate home appliance. And that title holder today needs IP connectivity, wireless versatility and an Apps infrastructure to take advantage of both.

connected_tv_shipments

Look at the connected TV sales projections by DisplaySearch. As mobile phone Apps inspire a shift to TV Apps, it’s a whole new world of TV.  The dumb “boob tube” transforms into an intelligent IP. While 3D gets the CES glory, my bet is that the real sweet spot is not the buzz but the honey that will come from the CONNECTED TV+APPs+WIRELESS combination.

Would you rather see an AVATAR in 3D at home… than have your home TV connected wirelessly to 1500 Apps that feed your home network?

Either way you vote, you probably won’t have to be an early adopter to have both by 2015.