Not sure I want my 3D TV, yet

Old joke: A chicken and egg are having sex. The chicken climaxes, rolls over, lights a cigarette and says, “Well I guess that settles that.”

chicken-egg-bed-came-firstPoint taken, at least as far as poultry is concerned. But it still takes both partners to get to the punchline. What about cases where you lack a partner?

I’m thinking, naturally, of 3D TV, which is rapidly emerging as the last, best hope of the consumer electronics industry. With the bottom all-but out of flat-panel display prices, major set makers are placing big bets on 3D technology heading into next month’s CES in Las Vegas. On Thursday, Sony inked a pact with RealD to license its 3D eyewear technology, and it, along with Panasonic, Samsung and LG will be showing off new 3D TV sets in their booths at the show.

Earlier in the week, the Blu-ray Disc Assn. finalized the technical spec for Blu-ray 3D, which also, no doubt, will make an appearance at CES.

The timing of all this 3D activity is in some measure fortuitous. CES will be opening on the heels of James Cameron’s $350 million 3D extravaganza, “Avatar,” which many 3D boosters in the CE industry will do for consumer interest in the process what “The Jazz Singer” did for talkies (both the movie and the 3D effects are drawing raves). Assuming it’s indeed a huge hit, “Avatar” will probably be released on Blu-ray sometime in 2011, just in time for the expected roll out of 3D-capable players (PlayStation 3 consoles can be made 3D capable sooner with a firmware upgrade). Read More »

Toshiba climbs aboard the Blu-ray lifeboat

Now we know why Toshiba is apparently ready to swallow its corporate pride and begin selling Blu-ray players: According to new projections by the Consumer Electronics Assn., sales of CE products are expected to drop 7.7% in 2009, to $165 billion, as the recession continues to grind away consumer spending.

The one CE product category expected to show positive growth this year? Blu-ray Disc players. Unit shipments of stand-alone (i.e. non-PlayStation 23) Blu-ray players are expected to grow by 112% this year, to nearly 6 million, while revenue is expected to grow by 48%, even in the face of price cuts, to top $1 billion.

Any port in a storm. Even in formerly enemy territory.

Morning read: Sony, Microsoft We-too Nintendo, Zucker gets one right

Slow news day unless your into games, in which case you can gorge yourself on news from E3 in LA. Both Sony and Microsoft introduced wireless motion-detection controllers for the PS3 and Xbox 360, respectively, aping Nintendo’s breakthrough wireless wand for the Wii. Write-ups here, here and just about everywhere.

Back here in Washington, the Justice Department is probing Google, Apple, Yahoo and Genentech on the possibility that they maintained an illegal conspiracy not to recruit each others’ executives, sources told the Washington Post.

jeff-zuckerThe morning’s most interesting item, though, is not really breaking news. It’s contained a the transcript of NBC CEO Jeff Zucker’s conversation with Kara Swisher at the D7 conference last week, and which the Wall Street Journal  has now posted.

In it, Zucker acknowledges something that has been too slow in dawning on media executives generally: scale–and the economies that go with it–is a thing of the past: Read More »