Remember the good ol' days of last March when 3D TVs were the next big thing? Fast forward several months and one iPad later, and it looks a little like they may be the next big flop.
According to a Wall Street Journal article, manufacturers are already pulling the trigger on price cuts in order to prop up weak sales on 3D sets (40 percent to 50 percent since the first ones went on sale). Market research firm Display Search has already adjusted its projections that 5 percent of TVs sold this year would be 3D models, slashing that number to 2 percent.
Expectations may have been unfairly raised by the runaway box-office success of Avatar in 3D, which was hyped as ushering in a new age of 3D anything and everything. But offering the first sets without any 3D content was a sticking point, especially since you were paying a price premium for the technology compared to a conventional HDTV. There's also the matter of wearing 3D glasses in your living room on a regular basis, something young kids might not think twice about, but something that requires a fundamental shift in viewing habits for adults (who are going to buy the things anyway).
Though trying to strike while the 3D iron was hot may not have worked the way Samsung and Best Buy had hoped, 3D may not be a flash-in-the-pan over the long term. The feature may just become a part of spec lists on future sets in the same way an Ethernet port is, instead of the main selling point. Display Search still projects that by 2014 41 percent of TVs sold will be 3D sets. By then, there will be far more 3D content available, and you may start to see units offering 3D images without the viewer needing to wear compatible glasses.
Think about how long companies have been trying to introduce the Internet to TVs and are still struggling (just ask Google). That gives you a more realistic picture of how 3D TV will be adapted -- in fits and starts -- rather than all of the revolutionary talk we've been hearing for most of 2010.