Mobile form factor will bring 3D to mainstream market

ABI Research anticipates that mobile devices may turn out to be the best form factor to bring 3D technology into mainstream markets. By 2015, 3D devices, including smartphones, notebooks, mobile Internet devices, and portable game players, will comprise over 11% of the total mobile devices market.

“Emerging 3D technologies for mobile devices do not require the user to wear glasses to view the 3D content,” said senior analyst, Victoria Fodale. “While there are still challenges with glasses-free 3D on televisions, is it is possible on smartphones and other mobile devices.”

Glasses-free technologies require an optimum viewing distance and a screen size that is better suited for single-viewer applications, like those used on mobile devices.

And according to Fodale: “Unlike 3D TVs, the mobile category has a fast replacement cycle. This means consumers are more likely to buy a mobile device with 3D in an upgrade purchase much sooner than they would purchase 3D in a larger form factor such as a flat-screened television.”

Mobile 3D devices will be driven by three key applications: creation of user-generated 3D content by integrated video and still cameras; playback of 3D content; and 3D gaming. Some 3D devices will also support the conversion of 2D content to 3D content.

It is still a very early market. In late 2010, notebooks and smartphones are the only mobile device categories that are shipping with 3D capabilities, and most of those have been limited to specific areas, in particular Japan.

As glasses-free technologies are refined and gain broader market acceptance, 3D will spread to other regions and mobile device categories, including media tablets and netbooks.