Here is the link to a column I wrote on the role of 3D for Japan’s electronics industry for the journal for the American Chamber Of Commerce in Japan.
The way its proponents spin it, 3D will be the next big thing not only in movie theaters, but in home electronics as well. One trigger for the 3D craze that is currently taking the entire electronics industry by storm was the smash success of “Avatar,” the Hollywood blockbuster released in 2009. “Avatar” grossed $2.7 billion in theaters worldwide (marking the highest grossing film of all time), with 80 percent of viewers paying a premium for 3D tickets. Hammered by the recession and facing a rapidly shrinking domestic market, Japan’s big electronics makers were the first to take notice. 3D is now widely seen as the savior of the television industry. Panasonic, for example, recently unveiled the world’s first 3D consumer-use camcorder. Toshiba, NEC and Fujitsu are already selling 3D-enabled computers. Nintendo is currently readying the 3DS, the first portable console game with a 3D screen (which is due out later this year). Buyers in Japan and elsewhere can already lay their hands on a number of 3D-capable movie projectors, cell phones, Blu-ray disc players, cameras, and TVs.
For years the industry talked up the arrival of 3D TV in the home to little effect. But now nearly all Japanese electronics brands have declared 2010 to be the breakthrough year for the technology. In fact, there are indeed a few signs of hope that 3D at home isn’t just a pipe dream. First and foremost, 2010 marks the first year in which 3D TVs are actually widely commercially available, and consumers can now choose between a few dozen models. All eyes in the industry are on the U.S., the world’s most lucrative TV market, where the first 3D TVs seemed to enjoy brisk sales. In March, Panasonic was the first company to enter the U.S. 3D TV market and subsequently announced that American customers snatched up the first batch of their 3D TVs in the first week. Samsung and Sony quickly followed suit with their own offerings. U.S.-based market research firm DisplaySearch is especially bullish about the 3D TV segment, recording 3.4 million units sold worldwide in fiscal 2010. While this number translates to just five percent of the entire flat panel TV market in that time period, DisplaySearch expects 3D TVs to reach a whopping 43 million shipments as early as 2014 (or, 37 percent of the global flat panel TV market).
– read the rest here.