About a year ago I wrote about the 3D TV (link) recommending TV manufacturers to go horizontal recapturing the content space currently lost to cable providers and only do 3D TV when it really works.
A year later it seems that TV manufacturers have indeed gone horizontal with Google TV appearing in Sony TVs and Plex in LG TV.
3D remains however a hot topic and is being pushed without that a good experience really exists. Today I saw 4 guys at the Sony Center battling for 3 available 3D glasses in the demo stand… it got even better when the fourth person started to look at his friends wearing the cool glasses: he was just laughing!
Yes, there is a market for 3D and no there will not be a mass market for 3D with 3D glasses. Why? Because in a mass market setup (read a family watching TV together while having some snacks and drinks) wearing these glasses is to put it simply: a stupid idea. Just imagine the situation: there you are with family and friends watching a TV show all wearing the glasses. But then there is this one person who forget his / her own glasses. O no! No 3D TV for that person, even better, no TV at all because watching 3D without glasses will make you feel sick really fast. Glasses are not practical for a medium that is most of the time spontaneous.
Will 3D without glasses take off? It will, I am sure about it. It will be an enriched experience without any additional hassle, simply how TV should be. You press a button and you are entertained.
I find it very interesting to follow feedback on these new versions of old series. It’s almost like the ultimate test to bring back a brand from the past. For those who know the brand it is about bringing back the good memories in modern context. For those who never experienced the brand in the past might have heard parents talking about it . Even though it’s not cool to like stuff your parents like(d) curiosity wins, you try and you are hooked. Mission accomplished: the brand has become relevant again.
I think that is happening with these series. It is a carefully crafted extension of the original brand promise, staying to the core of what made them cool in the first place but put in a modern context and adapting the stories to todays world. So far it seems 90210 and Melrose Place are doing fine with exactly that. The Knight Rider failed miserably. You only need to watch 5 minutes of any episode on Hulu.com and you see why: it stayed too close to the original series. Back in the 80s a super car with talking robot (remember KITT?) was cool because it was hard to imagine it would ever exist, that excitement is lost when you put the story in the context of today. The Knight Rider core promise just became totally irrelevant.
What’s next: V! I loved the series in the 80s! Then I saw it once in 2001 or so on TV and it was just… horrible. The characters and everything looked so fake… still the story should work still today, that is in a modern format with more professional effects. Cannot wait to see what ABC made of it: the visitors will arrive on November 3!
With a lot of interest I read the NY Times article “Seeing the Future in 3-D television” (link). It’s great to see TV makers trying to expand the possibilities to enjoy content. Of course the 50 USD a pop for the special 3D glasses and not to mention the additional production costs for studios to optimize their footage for 3D might just halt this innovation but in the end: if consumers want it, why not?
I think though that TV makers should rethink the “TV” brand drastically. In stead of improving the basic media consumption on the screen it would be better to expand the meaning of a TV. Think about it: 3D is just an additional option after black/white, color screens and HD screens. These technology changes have not changed the meaning of TV, TV makers brands and value at all.
In fact: since the arrival of cable boxes the basic user experience is not anymore with the TV brand but it is with your Time Warner provided cable box… When was the last time you touched your TVs remote control? Yes, the cable box made the TV maker brand almost irrelevant.
So, TV makers here is an idea: expand the meaning of the “TV” brand by going horizontal. Incorporate all the features of an Apple TV (with better storage, connection and video codecs), add internet connection, get partnerships with Netflix, Amazon, Hulu all to bypass cable providers. Make the TV the center piece. You can expand the meaning of TV and with that the meaning of your brand. And that can only be good: moving from a TV maker of “well designed TVs with a good screen” to a maker of “TVs with instant access to all entertainment regardless where it is” will have much more value in the long run.