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January 25, 2010

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3D TV Standards Problem and other Musings from CES

3D TV at CES 2010

You didn’t have to look very hard to see that the biggest thing at CES this year was continued buzz about 3D TV. From my standpoint, it seems the equipment manufacturers are ahead of the rest of the ecosystem to make this a mainstream reality. For one, there is very little 3D content and little commitment to produce more. I heard a statistic that I can’t prove, but sounds about right: there is a total of 120 hours of 3D television programming in the world. And one reason that Hollywood is willing to invest so much in experiences like Avatar is to bring new life to the theater release window. In other words, to make 3D an experience you won’t have at home. It seems logical for them to hang on to that distinctive advantage as long as possible before making the same content available at home. And of course, there are a lot of people who just got "spousal approval" for an HD flat screen and they aren’t likely to head back to Costco for a replacement technology any time soon.  Is seems like there is at least a possibility of a HD-DVD vs. BluRay style overhang in 3D technology as well. 

We are seeing competing standards from organizations like CEA and SMPTE, plus the announcements from Panasonic about displaying 3D TV images at 1080p along with a Blu-ray disc player supporting the same resolution. The standards battles that are upon us will surely slow down development.  Peter White of Rethink Researchwrote a great piece on the topic in the latest Faultline, 3D's cold shower – 3D Standards merely sub-standard. Check it out.  Speaking of Blu-ray players . . . one thing that struck me at CES was that the most promoted feature of new Blu-ray players has nothing to do with playing Blu-ray discs!  Instead, there seems to be a race to collect box-top logos for internet delivered video services like Netflix.  Since Blu-ray is all about the quality of the picture and streaming video is all about easy and direct access to content, it will be interesting to see how consumers choose.  If convenience trumps quality, it could be fatal for Blu-ray discs. Do you agree?  Please come visit us at CSTB 2010 in Moscow, Feb. 2-4.  Our very own Steve Oetegenn will be presenting on, “Emerging Delivery Technologies that Can Enhance your Business Model.”