Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ubisoft, 3D, And The Imaginary World

I saw this gem from Ubisoft last week (head of UK marketing Murray Pannell):
The truth is I think it is a technology that's coming. We can't ignore it. It'll start slowly this year. But like HDTV I wouldn't rule out the fact that this will be installed in everyone's living room in three year's time, and for us to be in a position to have content that could really look absolutely amazing in 3D.

Let's step back to a place I call "sanity" and take a look at this statement.

According to Nielsen's June 2010 Three Screens report:
HDTV: More than half of US TV households now have a high-definition television and receive HD signals; between Q1 2008 and Q1 2010, HDTV penetration grew 189%.
In other words, after a two year period of absolutely massive growth, we just broke 50%, and the U.S. would be considered (with the exception of Japan) a very "advanced" market when it comes to HD penetration. The government mandate to transition to digital format was a huge spur for consumers to replace their old sets, and we still have barely 50% penetration.

If you're going to e-mail and ask what percentage of the market has an HD set but can't receive HD signals (note the way the question was worded in the survey), I can't answer. Not many, though, at least after the completion of the signal transition, although I think it was much more common a few years ago.

So the idea that we'll have 3D sets in every home in three years, or even ten? Ludicrous. Even if everyone was willing to wear the glasses (they aren't, not by a long shot), 3D sets would have to drop to non-3D HD prices, which isn't going to happen anytime soon. And when that does happen, there are still a huge number of people who bought an HD set in the last two years (see the Nielsen quote--189% increase in the last two years). Are they all going to run out and buy a 3D set in the next three years? Not likely.

Does Ubisoft actually believe their own crap? Unikely. More likely: their announced earnings for the full fiscal year were a $76.2M loss, and if they can get people excited about the future--even a largely imaginary one--they will pay less attention to the present.

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