A new report coming out of the UK paints a dim picture for 3DTV home adoption, suggesting that while device purchases will by necessity go up, the percentage of those consuming 3D content is on the decline.
That's according to forecasts by Informa Telecoms & Media, which predicts that fewer than half of the 11 million UK homes expected to have a 3D-enabled TV in 2016 will be active users of the technology.
This comes in sharp contrast to 2010 trends the company observed, where 90 percent of 3DTV-enabled homes actively used the technology. According to Informa, that percentage was high because those who owned 3DTVs were early adopters, who are more likely to pay for 3D content. As time wears on and most manufacturers incorporate 3D into their sets by default, that percentage will continuously decline.
"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)," explained Informa senior analyst Adam Thomas.
"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 setís benefits -- along with features such as internet-connection capability and LED backlighting."
According to Thomas, 3DTV sets will have long-term market penetration because of this, but the 3D content itself will ultimately be a novelty.
"We do not share the view that 3D represents the obvious next evolutionary step for TV, in the same way that color followed black and white, or HD is following SD," said Thomas. "A case can be made that color and HD offer noticeable enhancements to the technologies that preceded them.
"But 3DTV is less of an enhancement and rather more a new type of viewing experience Ė one that many people will enjoy, but some way from becoming ubiquitous."
3D gaming has been a major focus for Sony's PlayStation 3 strategy, calling itself the "undisputed leader in 3D" and integrating 3DTV support into many of its first-party titles. A 3D display is also the major selling point of Nintendo's 3DS, which has so far sold below the company's expectations, with company president Satoru Iwata admitting that it originally expected the value of 3D imagery to be a better organic marketing tool than it has been.
"It has become clear that we need to do a lot more to convey the value to consumers," Iwata told investors in April.