At the IMS Market Focus Conference at SID 2010, yesterday was devoted to all aspects of the 3DTV market. During the session on the 3DTV Market Outlook, one of the speakers was Jim Sanduski, Senior Vice President for Sales with Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company. He made a number of interesting comments during his presentation, such as the fact that Panasonic does not feel that the current real-time 2D-to-3D conversion technology produces adequate quality, which is why the company does not include the feature in its models.
But another comment might be of more interest to the average consumer. He showed a picture of the kiosk that Panasonic has developed for retail display. The kiosk clearly was more expensive to develop and roll out than just simply putting a display on a retail shelf, but he pointed out that the in-store experience for the customer must be top quality. It appears that Panasonic is concerned that shoppers might not understand the 3DTV and could come away thinking that it doesn’t work well.
The comment that is most noteworthy, however, is that because Panasonic wants shoppers to have a good experience with the 3DTV, the company will not authorize the sale of their 3D-capable models over the Internet. Now, this certainly makes sense from the viewpoint of wanting to control the shopper’s experience, but I suspect that there’s more to that. To make room for a kiosk that looks like a smaller version of the starship Enterprise’s bridge deck, a retailer will be giving up a lot of space for just a single HDTV. It’s clear that Panasonic wants to protect its brick-and-mortar retail partners by prohibiting online sale of these models.
If the past provides any hint of the future, however, this is a genie that will be difficult to keep in its bottle. Not authorizing their sale is no guarantee that some units won’t leak out the supply channel, however. Once the unauthorized online retail sales start, you can be sure that Panasonic’s authorized online retailers will be clamoring for permission to compete. We’ll see how long the Web sale prohibition lasts.