Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Sony Hopes 3-D Pops TV (And Blu-ray and Vaio and PlayStation) Sales

3d-glasses-lifeBig, beautiful high-def TVs are so plentiful and so cheap that nearly everyone who wants one has one. So what can TV manufacturers do to goose sales? Add new features and hope consumers clamor for them.

Hence, Sony’s announcement that it’s making a big bet on…3-D TVs. CEO Howard Stringer is using the IFA Technology Show in Berlin to announce that Sony will make 3-D Bravia sets.

And 3-D Vaio laptops. And 3-D PlayStation3s. And 3-D Blu-ray DVD players.

No plans for a 3-D Walkman, though. (But wait!)

This is a recurring theme for Sony, by the way: Stringer also talked up 3-D in January at the Consumer Electronics Show. I still wonder about the actual demand for this; I sampled some new-fangled 3-D at CES and left underwhelmed. But the stuff I saw–a live broadcast of the college football championship game–was, admittedly, an experiment.

In any case, even if you believe Stringer’s assertion that consumers really love the new 3-D experience, there are some big hurdles before Sony (SNE) or anyone else in home electronics can capitalize on it. For instance:

  • A looming format war, the same thing that kept Blu-ray from taking a running start at the DVD market.
  • Ginormous prices: Sony hasn’t said how much its 3-D-enabled TV sets will cost, but the ones that rival LG go for something like $5,500.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik