3D-enabled smartphones won't do any better than 3D TVs

3D-enabled smartphones won't do any better than 3D TVs

Summary: LG recently debuted the Optimus 3D smartphone at Mobile World Congress. As amazing as the handheld might seem, it raises many questions. Namely, do we even need or want 3D-enabled smartphones?

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LG recently debuted the Optimus 3D smartphone at Mobile World Congress. As amazing as the handheld might seem, it raises many questions. Namely, do we even need or want 3D-enabled smartphones?

Of course, need and want are two very different things. I don't think anyone truly needs a 3D smartphone, and I'd be very interested to read an argument against that.

As for want, that is another story. Arguably, there are going to be at least some consumers who want a 3D smartphone. (Hey, there were at least a few units of the Microsoft Kin One and Two sold, and the LG Optimus 3D is definitely a more attractive device.) But how many consumers will truly throw down the cash for a 3D smartphone remains to be seen.

It also still remains to be seen how many consumers will even pay for a 3D TV, a device that is more arguably worth buying over a 3D smartphone. 3D has been around for a long time, but it really blew up on the scene at CES 2010. It was certainly a big point at CES 2011 this year, and it would be wrong to call 3D just a passing trend. But 3D TV sales have been rocky from the start.

Last June, the International Business Times reported that "only four percent of the TVs shipped to retailers in the first quarter of 2010 -- about 1.8 million out of 46.5 million -- were 3-D" and "the latest and greatest in television technology is likely to remain a niche product." One of the biggest problems cited at the time was the lack of at-home content available for 3D TVs. Hollywood is certainly trying to make up for this gap as quick as possible. (Even that Justin Bieber movie is being shown in 3D - don't ask why.) However, the amount of 3D content out there is still limited, and it will be even more limited on smartphones at this time.

In December, our sister site BNET found that many manufacturers were slashing 3D TV prices by up to 50%. Not for Black Friday or holiday sales, but rather because they simply weren't selling like the hotcakes they were expected to be.

Nevertheless, 3D TV sales are still growing. Panasonic had strong 3D TV sales at least once last year. The Futuresource Consulting research firm also predicts that 3D TV sales in the U.S. will likely double in the next year to five million units sold. So there is obviously some viable interest in 3D consumer technology.

One good part about the Optimus 3D's display is that it doesn't require the use of any extra glasses to view 3D video playback and stills. If it did, LG might as well give up now.  However, we don't know the carrier subsidized price point, and that could really make or break the Optimus 3D. If it is somewhere around $199 or $299, then the Optimus 3D could go mainstream. But it won't be that low given the 3D tag gimmick that jacks up the price along with some reasonable price hiking given the advanced technology.

How well the LG Optimus 3D (and other future 3D smartphones) fares depends on the marketing as well. LG has already pointed out that the Optimus 3D can be used for capturing and viewing 3D stills and videos. In partnership with YouTube, those clips can be uploaded and shared online. However, none of that seems that original anymore given 3D point-and-shoots with HD video recording, and sharing such content also requires other users to have 3D monitors, digital frames, etc..

But before I even thought of 3D video playback, I thought of how this could be used for gaming. 3D smartphones could be marketed as competition for everything from Sony Ericsson's Xperia Play (a.k.a. the PlayStation phone) to the upcoming Nintendo 3DS. Since the Optimus 3D and similar smartphones are really targeted at adults, there won't (or shouldn't be) any controversy regarding vision development problems that have already plagued the 3DS. It would be a great platform for gaming mobile app developers and take smartphones in a new direction. If LG and other smartphone manufacturers decide to take this route, then we have something fresh with more possibilities.

To wrap up, 3D smartphones will probably start popping up more over the next year or two, but sales won't be that stellar. It's going to take a very long time for such products to get mainstream popularity - if that ever even happens. I'm more likely to save up for a 3D TV that requires active shutter glasses than buy an expensive smartphone just for its 3D display.

Topics: Hardware, Mobility, Smartphones

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28 comments
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  • Don't believe 3D Sales...

    ...Manufacturers are sticking 3D (Enabled/Capable/Compatible) on everything now. It's going to be hard to find a TV/DVD/BluRay device that doesn't have some 3D gimmick thrown in. The real number is 'Who actually uses 3D' that is probably a nonexistent number, unless you go to the Movies and are usually FORCED into watching your film in 3D because that is all they are releasing these days. The public never demanded this, it was a pure marketing/financial gimmick to drive up profits.<br><br>Fortunately it will FAIL and just die out. Only a matter of time.
    james347
    • RE: 3D-enabled smartphones won't do any better than 3D TVs

      @james347 I disagree. This is here to stay. I'll put money on it. No glasses is the sell. There's plenty of heft to a 3D display that needs no glasses. The cool factor alone would sell it. 3D video on the go is a plus too. When displays can detect pull and push in the air as easy to use as modern touch displays it will take off even faster.
      blueskip
      • RE: 3D-enabled smartphones won't do any better than 3D TVs

        @blueskip

        Who are you? I don't like you, go away.
        james347
    • RE: 3D-enabled smartphones won't do any better than 3D TVs

      @james347 Your statements reflect your antiquated Neanderthal way of thinking. Marketing goes by the true numbers and the true numbers state that while regular theaters are empty, 3D movies like Avatar are selling out in all theaters from OmniMax, iMax to converted 3D Cinema Wide and regular theaters with new 3D projectors!

      Those are the facts..... and just because some old fart coots like you prefer to keep living in the dark ages until you're forced to come out of your cave or die, doesn't mean the vast majority of people agree with you!!!! .... or this lame article!!!
      i2fun
      • RE: 3D-enabled smartphones won't do any better than 3D TVs

        @i2fun@...

        Fact! You are a sucker who will by 3D junk because you have more money then sense. Go out and live in the real 3D world and stop living in your virus infested Windows world.
        james347
      • RE: 3D-enabled smartphones won't do any better than 3D TVs

        @james347
        I live in Pacific Northwest... fool. Far enough out in the country that I have deer, geese, bald eagles and osprey fishing on the lake 100yds away. You can't get any more real than that. Moose are common visitors here and seeing one 20ft from you, is about as 3D as life gets!

        As far as having a 3D phone or slate device goes, if I can take video and pics in 3D to share with others on YouTube and with local friends, that's exactly what I'll be doing. While you probably live in a smog and traffic infested city 3D city and lol.... Windows? haha.... I use Android on my phone and Linux on my computer. So I don't know what a virus even is. I haven't used Windows since 1998.... Fool!
        i2fun
    • RE: 3D-enabled smartphones won't do any better than 3D TVs

      @james347 I really don't care whether you like me or not.

      Better yet stick an Apple logo on it, and let Steve Jobs come out and tell his fanboys why they need it. It will sell bazillions overnight. Wanna bet?
      blueskip
  • RE: 3D-enabled smartphones won't do any better than 3D TVs

    I go back and forth on this. Glasses free 3d or holographic image devices may catch on. If video chat turned into a star wars experience, I think it might.
    hoaxoner
  • RE: 3D-enabled smartphones won't do any better than 3D TVs

    It's a step forward none the less. Now they have to come up with new ideas to better 3D. Now they have to invent new tech to enable 3D feedback. This is all good, as new ideas need new ideas. <br><br>So do I want 3D in my phone? sure it could be cool. Do I need 3D on my phone? not quite yet. Do I even need a phone? In the end its not what you or I want, its what you and I and other folks want to share with the world.
    ARMZ
  • RE: 3D-enabled smartphones won't do any better than 3D TVs

    The iPhone was a successful smart-phone model to charge a premium. Rest of all other models don't really give a good return on investment.

    Let's face the fact. Phone's tech refresh cycle for a user is about 2 years or less, including iPhone. How many users are going to spend $200-300 per every 2 years when cheaper and better phone are available for free?

    Free smart-phone plan is already happening, folks! 3D enabled phones? You may get it for free in 2 years, why bother?
    imbbk
  • RE: 3D-enabled smartphones won't do any better than 3D TVs

    I have no desire for a 3D phone or television. And I suspect you are absolutely right about content driving sales Rachel. I have a Kinect (which I consider one of the coolest pieces of hardware I've purchased) that's been gathering dust since launch day as there isn't a single Kinect game that's out that would entertain me.
    tech_monster
  • It was a fad in the 1950s, it'll be a fad now...

    It was a fad in the 1950s, it'll be a fad now so long as you have to carry those ridiculous glasses.
    olePigeon
    • You have to read the article

      @olePigeon No glasses needed for this display
      archangel999
  • RE: 3D-enabled smartphones won't do any better than 3D TVs

    3d is just stupid
    12312332123
  • RE: 3D-enabled smartphones won't do any better than 3D TVs

    3d is fine for those that want it.
    I had a Nokia 900o phone a long time ago and battery life apart its still the best and most competent phone I've ever handled,let alone owned.Id be happy with mine now if it still worked:-))
    michaelaaaaaa4
  • Lack of 3D Content

    The lack of 3D content is a good excuse, especially if people are waiting for movies and other commercially developed 3D content. What most are overlooking is the 3D content that can be created by customers. 3D has gone through phases since its enception, there is excitement with a change in technology and then the excitement fades.

    What would drive 3D content is for people to create their own 3D images and movies. There are 3D cameras available for a reasonable price, Fuji has a 10 megapixel digital stereo camera that is capable of 3D photos and movies. It has a 3D, glasses free display on the back that is similar to the ones mentioned in the article for smart phones.

    If people were to turn to a 3D camera and load the photos and movies onto another 3D capable display or monitor then the home 3D market could explode like the old 8mm home movies did in the 50's and 60's.

    I am a 3D junkie. When 3D is done right it can give a photo greater impact and give a feeling that one is viewing a scene the same way the world appears and not like at a flat image; there is the feeling that one move a bit to the side to see more. 3D done badly leads to eye strain and headaches. There is enough information on 3D composition to overcome the bad effects.
    sboverie
    • RE: 3D-enabled smartphones won't do any better than 3D TVs

      @sboverie@... I have the Aiptek 3D camcorder and have put a few 3D films on youtube

      I also have a Nimslo 3D 35mm film camera, and eventually will be putting some of those images on youtube too. Plus my webpages.

      Simon
      simple simon
  • 3DTV and 3D Smartphone is not really the same thing

    Your comparing apples to pears (yes, a pear, not an orange). 3D Smartphones do not need glasses, for a single viewer on that scale 3D is not that hard to do. 3D content for a single user device may just work as smartphone to smartphone video, once you have 3D video on the sending end. And who would have thought that a video service like YouTube would catch on? 3D YouTube?

    Then there is watching (for lack of a better term) TV on a smartphone. Who whats to watch a program on a 5 inch screen if you can wait a few hours and watch it on a 50 inch screen? Then again, If the 5 inch was 3D perhaps it might make up for 10x the size difference. (I really don't know, never tried it)

    Just sayin, let's not write it off quite yet, and that is coming from someone that is NOT a 3D fan.
    pllamonica9
  • LG released this phone just to be the &quot;first&quot;

    I really think 3D is unnecessary on a retail/consumer level, not only there's a huge lack of content but also existing content (most of it) can perfectly be seen in 2D (Tron, Alice, etc),
    so my conclussion here is that LG went for the Optimus 3d only so thay can say later they were the "first ever" manufacturer of 3D phones.... yikes...
    loquique
  • RE: 3D-enabled smartphones won't do any better than 3D TVs

    A better question would be why we need 3-D at all on TV OR these silly toys that can't handle what their original intents is/was in the first place. Unless you enjoy upgrade-itis and wasting money, it's silly to buy those toys in the first place.
    Maybe it's a distraction ploy: Give the customers enough junk until they'll forgive the inability to be a phone and give good (whatever) instead. A lot of this stuff smells an awful lot like MS marketing.
    tomaaaaaa1