It seems that at least one of the big set makers is already looking beyond 3D by tapping into the sense of smell. I guess that there is potential for a printer business model with high-cost cartridges that contain a palette of perfumes inside. This might appeal to some; however, I would fear that my living room could end up with a morning-after smell of wet dog or stale pizza.
Could this be a move in the wrong direction? There is already too little consideration as to what consumers actually perceive a benefit for new features. The consumer research that DisplaySearch recently conducted in over a dozen countries was clear in this regard. While there is relatively little interest in new features such as 3D, there are still many consumers looking to upgrade to what the industry considers to be old news. Many consumers are still moving up from CRT, and so HD is still big news, especially beyond the US, Japan, and Korea. For example, in Western Europe, only around one-third of households are watching HD. At the same time, an easily-ignored feature—low energy consumption—rates quite high in some markets.
Figure 1: Relative Importance of Features in TV Purchase
Source: DisplaySearch Global TV Replacement Study
There are larger shifts in the landscape of video consumption occurring than just a move to 3D. These threaten to push TV into the role of video monitor—though arguably, that has already happened in many markets. The main issue though is that the axis of competition is moving towards convenience, not greater picture performance.
Consumers are about to reach the “iPod moment” in which video consumption shifts towards mobile devices and personalization, just like it did for audio five years ago. When did you last hear anyone promoting sound quality in mainstream audio? TV sets will remain the screen of choice, but they are likely to become controlled by a tablet or smart phone that will search, recommend, and control access.
The old axes of competition (screen size, price, and picture quality) are on the point of being swapped for convenience, access to content, and ease of use. Consumers seem as interested in things like power consumption as they are in shiny new features. Set makers who fail to respond will risk ending up in the monitor business.