Market research firm In-Stat has just conducted a survey that should prove sobering to the TV manufacturers and movie studios that are in a hurry to put 3D HDTVs into our homes. Not only are consumers lukewarm to the idea of 3D content, but they're also unwilling to pay much more for new 3D equipment like TVs and Blu-ray players.
About a third of the respondents aren't particularly interested in 3D sets in the home at all; of the remainder who are at least somewhat interested, a full 25 percent wouldn't spend anything extra for a 3D HDTV. Another 43 percent would be willing to pay extra, but not more than $200 for a new set. The percentage of interested consumers willing to pay extra (up to $50) for a 3D Blu-ray player is actually less (33 percent), with another third once again not interested in spending extra at all.
The one product that more consumers would be willing to fork over extra for is a 3D Blu-ray movie. Two thirds of those at least somewhat interested in 3D would pay more for a 3D title, though the amount would be $5 or less.
Somewhat counter-intuitively, In-Stat concludes that "With more equipment and content becoming available and consumer interest in place, 2010 will be a good year for 3D." But it's a sure thing that 3D HDTVs and Blu-ray players will cost a lot more than non-3D components when they're introduced next year—certainly far above the modest price increases that some consumers would be willing to pay. Of course, that's true of any new technology introduction, but it's unclear that consumer interest is "in place" to get even early adopters to pony up big sums for 3D. That's why Panasonic is doing demo tours of 3D equipment to try to get people more enthusiastic about the technology.
Where there may be hope for 3D is that young children are getting used to the experience of watching new animated films in 3D, and they may be the industry's ambassadors, prodding parents to purchase 3D sets so they can replicate the same viewing experience at home. Unlike the rest of us, they think it's cool to wear the necessary dorky plastic glasses to get the 3D effect. Whether their influence is enough to make 3D HDTV into anything more than a technical curiosity is very much in doubt, which is actually the takeaway you get from In-Stat's research.