CES: Sony 'Pins Future' on 3D Acceptance

While Sony was hardly alone last week in its various 3D ventures on display at CES, the iconic Japanese firm is staking much of its reputation and its future on the gamble that 3D in the home is a given.

In declaring that Sony "pins future on a 3D revival," referring to the fact that 3D briefly hit movie houses back in the 1950s, the Wall Street Journal said Sony CEO Howard Stringer "bullied past the hesitancy of some top aides to drive every unit of the company" to pursue 3D advancements. Stringer also is credited with pushing 3D well beyond the boundaries of Sony — notably in persuading both ESPN and the PGA Tour to begin recording and broadcasting pro golf matches in 3D — something that is now in the offing.

AT CES, Sony unveiled nine 3D-ready TV units and a 3D Blu-ray player — prompted by what the WSJ says was a "wake-up call" following a demo by Panasonic of a 103-inch plasma 3D display in the fall of 2008.

Helping Stringer propel Sony in 3D's direction (and persuade some very hesitant Sony execs back in Tokyo, as well) was last fall's release of the 3D movie "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs," a Sony Pictures title that was a surprise hit.

Also, the current 3D movie blockbuster "Avatar" — already the second-largest grossing film in history — is being touted for its next-gen production values by Sony competitor Panasonic, whose various 3D-centric equipment was used by director James Cameron behind the scenes and in post production. Yet ironically, despite Panasonic's commercial marketing tie-in with the film, "Avatar" was filmed with Sony cameras.

Sony got burned 20 years ago in the Beta-VHS battle but was victorious more recently in its Blu-ray vs. HD DVD bid for success. The company predicts 3D will prompt about $11 billion in industry-wide product sales within three years.

Wishful thinking or a real-world vision? Stay tuned.