The news that ESPN is closing down its 3D sports channel is the beginning of the end for an innovation that nobody really wanted.
In the 1980s, telephone companies rolled out digital services under the name ISDN – Integrated Services Digital Networks – which were expensive and appealed to few businesses, giving them the nickname Innovations Subscribers Don’t Need.
3D TV fits that description of an innovation which customers never wanted. While the technology was seen being the great hope of stimulating sales in a moribund consumer electronics market, consumers were never really convinced.
The 3D TV push of the last two years is typical of many technology products in that there isn’t an immediate need for them but manufacturers and retailers hope that they can hype a market into existence.
Usually that model fails, but not always.
Sometimes though, these technologies are subject to their own hype cycle and over time they come back in ways we don’t quite expect.
It’s difficult to see how 3D TVs can make a comeback, but who knows? What we do know though is they were expensive toys for the few who bought the hype.
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