By Neil Schneider
I’m a huge Simpsons fan, and I will never forget an episode where career criminal Sideshow Bob runs for office. After winning a landslide vote, he wreaks havoc on Springfield as its mayor. Fortunately, Lisa Simpson discovers that Bob’s winning votes were cast by deceased inhabitants of the local cemetery (human and pet!) – and all is returned to normal. Well, as normal as Springfield gets, anyway.
What do 3D and Sideshow Bob have in common, you ask? We shall see!
At the end of September, Chris Connery (VP of PC and Large Format Commercial Displays for DisplaySearch) published a blog entitled “Have 3D Desktop Displays Come and Gone Already“?
His first volley was a slight against Nvidia’s GeForce 3D Vision and their related 120Hz monitor sales in the first two quarters of 2010:
With uncertainty in timing for mainstream 3D TV in the home, the market for 3D monitors seems to have come and gone already. Sell-through of “3D Vision-ready displays” as listed by NVIDIA in the first two quarters of 2010 is less than 3,500 per quarter in all major US PC outlets combined:
- Acer GD245HQ 120 Hz LCD
- Acer GD235HZ 120 Hz LCD
- Alienware OptX AW2310 120 Hz
- ASUS VG236H 120 Hz
- BenQ X2410
- LG W2363D 120 Hz
- LG W2363DB 120 Hz
- NEC F23W2A
- Samsung SyncMaster 2233RZ 120 Hz
- ViewSonic FuHzion VX2265wm 120 Hz
- ViewSonic FuHzion VX2268wm 120 Hz LCD display
An impressive looking list for sure! So, let’s dissect this a little. With the help of my good friend Google, I looked all these models up, and this is what I found:
As far as I can tell, while there was some Internet discussion about the BenQ X2410, the NEC F23W2A, and the LG W2363DB, they were never released. I can’t find these models listed on their corporate sites, I can’t find them in Google…they are nowhere to be found!
The ViewSonic FuHzion VX2265wm appears to be discontinued and is in short supply. Most vendors list it as out of stock.
While the Samsung SyncMaster 2233RZ is still available, it was Samsung’s first 120Hz display product released in April, 2009. The ViewSonic FuHzion VX2268wm was released in May. What do these two monitors have in common? A limited 1680X1050 resolution – a deterring factor for most gamers that want bigger and higher resolution displays.
Out of the entire list, only four displays support the modern 1920X1080 standard: the Alienware OptX AW2310 (June, 2010), the ASUS VG236H (July, 2010), The Acer GD235HZ (February, 2010), and the LG W2363D (July, 2010). The Acer GD245HQ (March, 2010) is also available, but it’s only for the European market and is out of the scope of the blog’s statistic. As DisplaySearch was only considering the first two quarters of 2010 ending on June 30th, this isn’t an accurate measure of these products’ sales potential.
Their 3,500 per quarter sales statistics make more sense once you factor in the limited product availability and late in the year launch dates. Clearly, these caveats should have been acknowledged before making blanket conclusions about the 3D display industry on PC.
I also think their negativity towards iZ3D’s move to drop their 3D monitor in favour of better 3D software support also needs to be explained. With the exception of a 17″ prototype released in 2006, iZ3D only had a single 22″ 1680X1050 3D monitor solution which was on the market for about three years and predated Nvidia’s GeForce 3D Vision glasses. While their dated monitor received mixed reviews in the press, gamers were consistently enthusiastic about their stereoscopic 3D drivers. In fact, iZ3D’s drivers were already being used for displays outside their own hardware space through end-user license.
It therefore didn’t make sense for iZ3D to directly compete in the crowding display market. Instead, they are focusing on the software drivers they have a growing track record for. Most recently, iZ3D and Dynamic Digital Depth (DDD) have been recognized as AMD HD3D partners to help add stereoscopic 3D support to AMD graphics cards. This is clearly a sign of industry growth, and not the fading interest that DisplaySearch would have us believe.
When the blog was written, DisplaySearch probably didn’t know that Nvidia revealed sales of over 200,000 3D Vision glasses to date. At an estimated $200 a pop, that’s potentially $40 million dollars of revenue. Even factoring in product returns and a reserved sample for media and store displays leaves a respectable revenue number. Keep in mind that this figure is heavily bottlenecked by the fact that their software and hardware are directly tied to their glasses and only their glasses. They will also start licensing their software to end users through their 3DTV Play option. This is more for HDMI 1.4 compliant 3D HDTVs, but it’s still a market expansion for them beyond just their glasses.
Since DDD doesn’t have hardware to sell, theirs is a strict licensing model for all possible solutions. Some time ago, they put out a press release that their TriDef Experience software has sold over a million units based on licensing agreements with notebook computers and display manufacturers. TriDef Experience includes a stereoscopic 3D gaming driver (similar to Nvidia and iZ3D) and also includes a 3D media player.
Given the continued release of new 3D product lines, the growing amount of 3D content becoming available, and the diversification of the display market; DisplaySearch’s conclusions are both wrong and premature. This isn’t a case of a display industry having “come and gone”, the real action just hasn’t started yet.