Why I’ll never buy a 3D-TV…and you probably won’t either

3D-TV is not going to be the next big thing. In a previous post, I looked at different factors that drive innovation diffusion to commercial success. Using that same model, it’s pretty clear that current 3D-TVs have a tough road ahead of them.

Testing 3D-TV against the diffusion of innovation framework

Let’s look at the 7 factors of innovation diffusion, and do a back of the envelope analysis to see what I mean:

Rating Explanation
Relative Advantage POSITIVE Watching a movie in 3D looks better
Compatibility NEGATIVE New TV equipment (incl. glasses) and new DVD formats — not to mention new techniques for sudios
Complexity NEGATIVE This does not make my home theater situation easier at all
Observability NEUTRAL While anyone can see a demo, its hard to notice the difference in anything but the standard demos of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Trialability NEUTRAL I have to go to a Best Buy, or a rich friend’s place to try it out
Social Acceptability NEGATIVE Be honest, wearing glasses makes you look like a dork
Regulatory NEGATIVE While “regulatory” is used loosely, here, the point of this factor is all of the ecosystem changes that need to occur, from studios to broadcasters, new equipment and transmission methods, as well as cable companies

The net effect: slow growth projection

The net effect is that I believe 3D-TV will have a slow ramp, based on the model above.

Additionally, the macro trend of video consumption is toward video “snacking”, and “cord cutting”, with the advent of YouTube and social video. Mobile technologies (like the iPad) and new devices (like Roku, PS3, and AppleTV) are making it even easier to consume what you want, when you want it, and on whatever device.

So the real need to have an immersive in-home experience revolve around sports, live events, and movies; I think in-home 3D may have a place in those three areas. However, the complexity and expense of the setup, limited availability of content options, and the overall inconvenience of having to wear glasses impede the diffusion of this technology…oh yeah, and apparently harmful to drink and watch a 3D-TV, so I certainly won’t buy one :)

[UPDATE Nov 1, 2010: It seems TechCrunch has caught on to this trend as well with this post]

[UPDATE June 12, 2013: …and ESPN kills 3D broadcasts kills 3D broadcasts]




  1. Rishi, gotta say I don’t agree with your argument. I have read that the best of the 3d’s will convert your content into 3d. I could take the argument and replace 3d with HD. We now have HD as standard.
    Better argument, no ones wants to wear the glasses as they stand today and most importantly (which they will correct) : if no glasses, really can’t watch this tv, becomes all blurry.

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