Why 3-D Won't Be the Next Tech Gold Rush

What's that? Toshiba has introduced a 3-D television you can watch without those goofy glasses? Cue the hyperbole!

"A dream TV is now a reality. It's obviously more natural to watch TV without glasses. That is the natural technological progression," The New York Times quotes Masaaki Oosumi, president of Toshiba's visual products group, at a press event yesterday.

Oosumi demonstrated two glasses-free 3-D TVs for journalists. Each model uses a special screen to pull together nine images into a single frame, The Times reports. Pricing varies from $1,440 for the 12-inch model to $2,880 for the 20-inch set.

Just another morsel in a 3-D media meal
The obvious winner here is IMAX (Nasdaq: IMAX  ) , whose 3-D projection technology has become a profitable add-on for cinemas. More 3-D TVs means more 3-D DVDs, which in turn means more 3-D films.

But let's also not forget the studios. Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) and Viacom's (NYSE: VIA  ) Paramount Pictures are among those to have released 3-D hits in recent months. (Toy Story 3 for Disney; The Last Airbender for Paramount Pictures.) It's a good bet DVD editions of both 3-D films will be sold at a premium.

Retailers should also be pleased. Best Buy (NYSE: BBY  ) and other digital entertainment specialists get a new piece of high-margin hardware for early adopters to drool over.

Even so, Toshiba's new sets are just morsels in a 3-D media feeding frenzy. Late last month, Lucasfilm announced a planned rerelease of the entire Star Wars saga in 3-D, beginning with The Phantom Menace in 2012. The long tail of just this one event could stretch more than a decade.

With all that, you'd think a tech investor like me would be all-in on 3-D. I'm not. Luxury technology has a place in the home, sure, but between Blu-ray and set-top boxes, many consumers have already upgraded their living rooms. My guess is the glasses-free 3-D TV concept -- cool though it sounds -- is at least five years away from mass adoption.

Now it's your turn to weigh in. Will you buy a glasses-free 3-D TV when it becomes available? Please vote in the poll below and then leave a comment to explain your thinking. And don't forget to check back to see how your peers are voting.

Both our Motley Fool Inside Value and Motley Fool Stock Advisor services have recommended subscribers purchase shares of Best Buy and Walt Disney. IMAX is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Motley Fool Options has recommended subscribers purchase Best Buy calls. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Disney at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader. The Motley Fool owns shares of Best Buy and is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. The Fool's disclosure policy was made for 3-D viewing.

True to its name, The Motley Fool is made up of a motley assortment of writers and analysts, each with a unique perspective; sometimes we agree, sometimes we disagree, but we all believe in the power of learning from each other through our Foolish community.


Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (3)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On October 05, 2010, at 3:18 PM, lution wrote:

    3-d TV? I still don't have a blue-ray player....

  • Report this Comment On October 05, 2010, at 10:09 PM, Tgemini1974 wrote:

    As much as I love the Imax experience I would not want to wear 3D glasses at my home. Its unimaginable to think that anyone would want to sit around wearing 3D glasses every time they turn on their tv. Its great for a special movie now and again, but the reality of being in your home is amusing. The only time the masses will really buy is when 3D becomes more mainstream on channels and movies and you don't need funny, uncomfortable plastic glasses to watch it. I can see in the future (5 to 8 years maybe) that it comes standard with the television and you get some shows that offer it without the glasses. Almost like HD started.

  • Report this Comment On October 12, 2010, at 2:21 PM, ggalarza wrote:

    "Why 3-D Won't Be the Next Tech Gold Rush" Comment Mr.Beyers, Your blog entry offers a different perspective of 3-D technology that I don't find everyday. In fact after reading your blog I became fearful the industry is slowly digging its own grave by endorsing 3-D in both TV and film. I agree with you that having more 3-D films could potentially tarnish the value of the technology as it could potentially be used for disastrous films. Looking at this past summer films such as Step 3-D and Piranha 3-D devalue the technology. Hopefully these films show studios that consumers aren't just buying into any film because it has the word 3-D attached to the project. The fact is that consumers are becoming smart. When it comes to 3-D consumers have figured out the difference between Pandora (Avatar) and Piranha (Piranha 3-D)." I also agree with you that the idea of home viewers willing to spend thousands of dollars to upgrade their home entertainment system to wear glasses sounds obnoxious. Sure wearing 3-D glasses while watching the latest action flick at near theater sounds appropriate. But, who wants to watch their local weatherman in 3-D? Your right Beyer's I feel 3-D TV's are "five years away from mass adoption". You blog also points out that George Lucas is re-releasing his Star Wars films in 3-D. The fan boys are guranteed to show up to watch the film since Lucas's film goers will eat up any presentation of showing Star Wars in a new light. After reading your blog I knew 3-D TV's were expensive, but your blog actually showed Toshiba's prices. After seeing that it cost $2,880 for a 20 inch flat screen 3-D tv, I don't see this technology survivng our current economic state. Having a 3-D television is a luxury these days. Should prices fall then I believe consumers at a middle or working class level will buy into the technology. When DVD first came out consumers were turned away by it's expensive prices. As the market value for a DVD player dropped then consumers bought into the new technology. Thank you for referencing Last Airbender in your blog. It baffles me how that film ended up making over $100 million. As an intern this past summer at Universal Pictures' I got to see a studio perspective of how distribution of three 3-D films being released at the same time period could lead to millions of dollars lost. While at Universal I worked on Despicable Me which was shot in 3-D. Last Airbender had no business being converted into 3-D. Thanks to Paramount Pictures aggressive distribution Despicable Me lost close to $10 million of profit opening day weekend because 3-D theaters were scarce. Not to mention Disney's Toy Story 3 was released around the sametime. Thank you for spending sometime on reading my comment toward your blog. I would enjoy hearing your opinion and your expertise in this field. Please feel free to read and critic my blog http://myportfolio.usc.edu/ggalarza/2010/10/3-ds_pursuit_of_...

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