In a bid to sell its Blu-ray 3D equipment, such as TV-sets, glasses and players, Panasonic has acquired exclusive rights to sell Avatar movie on Blu-ray 3D (BD 3D) format till February, 2012. As a result, only customers of Panasonic will be able to watch the movie in stereo-3D format for more than a year from now.
“Just to confirm the Avatar bundle deal does run until Feb 2012,” said Sara Barrett, a spokeswoman for Panasonic, in an interview with Avzombie web-site.
In order to get Avatar on BD 3D now, end-users have to either acquire a bundle consisting of a stereoscopic 3D plasma television from Panasonic, a Blu-ray 3D player, glasses and the movie itself; or a set of 3D glasses and the disc with the movie for $399.
While Panasonic has done a lot for Blu-ray stereo-3D standard in general and Avatar movie in particular, exclusive bundle of the highly-anticipated movie seems excessive. Other consumer electronics companies like Samsung Electronics or Sony Corp. have done a lot to promote the standard (in fact, Sony PlayStation 3 is the world's most popular BD 3D player) and locking one of the highly-anticipated movies to one hardware supplier does not seem to be a fair business practice. Potentially, Samsung and Sony can also cut bundling deals with producers of popular movies, but while the move will punish the Osaka, Japan-based maker of TVs, this will create a mess on the BD 3D market akin to a war of formats.
Locking content to particular hardware is common in game console industry, where consoles are sold at a loss and attention to platforms is attracted by content. Selling a popular movie with only certain kinds of TVs, which are pretty expensive among other things, seems to be a rather controversial move. On the other hand, this may prove that even Panasonic, as one of the main driving forces of stereo-3D (S3D) these days, does not believe in massive adoption of its S3D devices in short-term future and needs to boost the interest towards them.