New report casts doubt on 3D popularity

1 in 3 UK homes will own a 3DTV by 2016.

Fewer than half of the 11 million 3DTV-ready homes in the UK in 2016 will be active and regular users of 3D TV content, a new report predicts.

According to research from Informa Telecoms & Media, 3DTV is not expected to be a mainstream success.

Last year, almost 90 per cent of homes with 3D-ready TVs were "active" users, a high figure Informa said was the result of early-adopters being more likely to sign up for 3D content.

But going forward, as 3D becomes a "default" technology embedded into more and more TVs, it will reach consumers who are not particularly interested in the tech, so the active percentage will fall, the report reasoned.

The findings will no doubt trouble PlayStation 3 maker Sony, which has invested millions of dollars into 3D entertainment.

It makes 3D films, 3DTVs and 3D video games across its various subsidiaries.

The PS3 is a 3D-enabled home console, and a number of 3D-enabled video games, including MotorStorm: Apocalypse, Killzone 3 and Gran Turismo 5, have been released.

Naughty Dog's Uncharted 3 is expected to be a 3D gaming standard-bearer when it launches later this year.

And at E3 this month Sony announced a budget PlayStation 3DTV designed to attract those put off by the high cost of the tech.

However, this is cause for hope. Informa predicted significant growth in the penetration of 3D-ready sets with one in three households in the UK owning one by 2016.

"3DTV has the backing of the major UK broadcasters like Sky and Virgin, and most recently the BBC announced its plans to show the Wimbledon final in 3D for the first time," said senior analyst and author of Global 3DTV Forecasts Adam Thomas.

"Irrespective of existing public demand for 3D, major set manufacturers (Samsung, LG, Panasonic, et al) increasingly see 3D capability as a feature that they must include in their sets, or the perception will be that rival manufacturers are producing a technically-superior product (with 3D included)," Thomas continues.

"The result is that an increasing proportion of TV sets are having 3D capability built into them. But instead of a USP, 3D is now often marketed as just one of the set’s benefits – along with features such as internet-connection capability and LED backlighting."

The problem is getting people interested in 3D content, said the report.

"We do not share the view that 3D represents the obvious next evolutionary step for TV, in the same way that colour followed black and white, or HD is following SD.

"A case can be made that colour and HD offer noticeable enhancements to the technologies that preceded them. But 3D TV is less of an enhancement and rather more a new type of viewing experience – one that many people will enjoy, but some way from becoming ubiquitous."

Last year French game publisher Ubisoft told Eurogamer a 3D-enabled telly would be in every living room in just three years time.

Gaikai boss Dave Perry, was less enthusiastic, telling Eurogamer there will be a 3DTV in every home in eight or nine years.

Sony talks future of 3D in gaming

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