In Part 1 of this very short series, we looked at an example of a company attempting to launch a new product category not once, not twice, but three times. In the end, we don’t think Pepsi Next will be successful at the third attempt by Pepsi to develop a “mid-calorie” cola.
Today we look at another example of three swings at the ball. This one won’t end in a strike-out. But the outcome might be worse. This could end up as a never-sending series of foul balls.
How ironic that 3D for mass entertainment is on its third major iteration. The first two unsustainable 3D attempts by Hollywood in the 1950s and late 1970s are well documented. Yet here we are again, with pretty much the same goals and technology underpinnings.
And, as in the Pepsi Next case, a market the consumer never gave a hint of asking for.
Same inputs, same challenges. There is some chicken and egg in here, but basically here are the barriers to mass adoption of 3D:
- Lack of content
- Need for special glasses for viewing
- Costs of access (DVDs, special TVs, movie ticket prices)
- Discomfort with viewing experience
As before, the “3D hype” is not living up to expectations put forth over the course of 2010. Still not enough movies, still not enough purchase of movie tickets, still not enough sales of 3D-capable TV sets, still those expensive, clunky, butt-ugly glasses.
There are some major differences this time, though, that will keep this category alive, albeit on life support (or to go back to our baseball metaphor – an endless pitcher-hitter dual). The viewing opportunities have spread to the computer and gaming console, and to the smartphone (see Sprint 3D EVO). In addition, manufacturers are working maniacally to make cheaper glasses and/or viewing panels that eliminate the need for said glasses.
So 3D will survive this time. But why won’t it grow to the sky?
As with the Pepsi Next example, we have a solution with very little need. We already live in a three-dimensional world. When we retreat, escape, we seek comfort in two dimensions. If we want entertainment in three dimensions, we go to the theme park. It’s a reason gaming like Call of Duty, et al. will be a 3D success story – it is not escape, but immersion.
Long term, where 3D ends up will be dictated by Gen Y and/or their kids. If 3D sticks around long enough this time, entertainment habits might be broken. People might be wearing those stupid glasses wherever they go.