Sony's 3D TV plans become a little clearer

The addition of 3D hardware to TVs won't add a lot to the manufacturng cost

Sony expects that 3D televisions will make up between 30 percent and 50 percent of all sets it sells in the financial year that begins in April 2012, a senior executive said late last week. The goal further indicates Sony's confidence in 3D entertainment ahead of a roll-out of the technology next year.

Sony first announced its 3D ambitions in early September when President and CEO Howard Stringer said the company planned to launch 3D-capable Bravia TV sets and Blu-ray Disc players as well as adding 3D to the PlayStation 3. Sony's plans for the latter two products are already becoming clear: the Blu-ray Disc Association is working on a 3D disc standard while Sony plans to add 3D to all models of the PlayStation 3 via a firmware update.

On the TV side, perhaps the largest and most important part of the picture, Sony hadn't disclosed many details but now that picture is starting to come into focus.

The 3D-compatible sets will include a small piece of additional hardware that enables them to show 3D content but they'll also work as conventional television sets, said Hiroshi Yoshioka, executive deputy president of Sony and head of the unit that includes its TV business, in an interview. Yoshioka didn't elaborate on the additional hardware but said it would only add a little to the production cost of the TV set.

By far the biggest expense for 3D viewing will be the glasses that are required to produce the illusion of a three-dimensional image. Those could cost up to around US$200 and won't necessarily be bundled with a television. By selling the glasses separately Sony will be able to keep its 3D-compatible sets competitive with other sets while only requiring a higher outlay from customers who want to experience 3D content.

Yoshioka stressed that Sony has yet to determine the premium for 3D-compatible sets and whether it will bundle the glasses or sell them separately. But the TV business is perhaps the most price-sensitive of all of Sony's product areas, particularly in the U.S. market, so the company will likely want to keep additional costs down.

Sony's TV business has been losing money for six years but Stringer committed this month to turning a profit on televisions in the next financial year, which runs from April 2010 to March 2011. Success with 3D will be vital if Sony is to accomplish its goal of grabbing a 20 percent share of the LCD TV market within the next three years.

"It's all up to the contents," said Yoshioka.

Sony's 3D plans revolve around gaming, movies and sports. Sony is already working on gaming with the PlayStation 3 upgrade plans and its movies division, Sony Pictures, is already producing 3D movies. If history is any indicator, sports is an additional area where users are willing to pay a little more money for a better experience.

The company's existing relationship with broadcasters through its movie division and TV production house could serve well in promoting 3D but even if it doesn't there will be a secondary route to 3D-capable sets. Sony is expanding its PlayStation Network service to cover its televisions and will launch a new content delivery service next year that will pump movies, TV shows and other video content directly into Bravia TVs and Blu-ray Disc players from its own servers.

Smaller-scale experiments have already taken place in the U.S., where Sony recently offered its "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" movie to Internet-linked Bravia TVs ahead of the DVD release.

"So far there is a good response," said Yoshioka of the trial.

Late last year "Hancock," another Sony movie, was offered via the same route.

See also: Hands on: James Cameron's Avatar: The Game in 3D

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Martyn Williams

IDG News Service

5 Comments

Anonymous

1

waste of time

sony are seriously wasting their time.
no one is going to buy a new TV in the next 2 years.
i just spent 3K on a new TV a few months ago and will not be buying one for at least 3 more years.
are sony stupid or what?
they wait till LCDs finally come down in price to a affordable measure than release new tech expecting people to buy new TVs.
it aint gona happen.
if they released these when LCDs were still expensive it would be ok because most people would of not switched over to HD TVs but now most people have so theres no way 3D TVs will be selling well for a while.
if they somehow manage to get movies and games running in 3D off normal TVs than it would be worthwhile but it sounds like they cant do that.
so if you want to view movies and games in 3D you have to buy a new TV, even though you just bought a 3K dollar TV a few months ago?
yea, i think ill pass.

Anonymous

2

Who was it that was stupid again?

You are just cheap.
Why buy a crappy TV for 3K ?

Im really looking forward to this :D

Anonymous

3

@Anon

Whyare they stupid, not everyone spends 3k on a tv, most people probably spend £500 these days. People that have ad an lcd tv for a couple of years now (lots of ppl) will probably upgrade again in about 2 years and if they see a 3d tv with the same specs as the new tv they were gonna buy and it only cost £50-£100 more, which do you think they are gonna buy.
All tvs in the shop atm are all HD so the percentage of people that have hd must be very high now

Anonymous

4

Sony doesnt expect this to sell right away

Obviously sony doesnt expect this to sell big within its release, its just more of a "We got 3D Tv's We are the future" Kind of act, it's all about what companies got what first, Playstation will eventually use this as a major feature in the coming years and when that happens what will happen? will you want to play or watch movies on your normal HDTV When you could be enjoying it better on a HD3DTV Tv, but of course you just burned your money on this new TV and your not going to spend more on this

Expect these to be huge around Christmas in 2015

Anonymous

5

Slow Pick Up in the Beginning

I think 3D TV's will initially sell really slow but will eventually pick up in sales, like the poster above me I just bought a LED Back lit LCD TV for 2K and don't have any plans to buy a new TV anytime soon. Now even if I hadn't bought a new TV a few months ago I know I wouldn't be purchasing a 3D TV if they sold it to me as a 3D TV and it didn't come bundled with the glasses & if they expect us to pay upwards of $200 for each glasses, they are insane!!!

Now most Theaters have been using as far as I know Polarized lens for there shows and some don't mind if you take them with you. All they ask you to do is to recycle them if you choose, while some theaters have glasses they give you and take back at the end of the show. Now I have been collecting these disposable polarized glasses thinking that would be the standard they would be using, of course that wasn't a guarantee but I thought it would be highly likely rather than them using the red & blue standard. Now the question is what is going to be the standard? If they still haven't figured it out then I'm not too worried because they may end up using the Polarized lens still, but if that is the case how could they dare try and sell those glasses they have been giving away at theaters for $200 a piece, so I have to assume these use a different standard.

So now my question is what Standard are they going to be using?

Comments are now closed.

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