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Tuesday March 29, 2011 3:53 pm

Will the Nintendo 3DS pave the way for a 3D iPhone?

iphone 3d

The new Nintendo 3DS promises to be a success not only because it actually works well and does indeed provide a 3D image without any glasses or aid whatsoever, but because it takes amusing 3D photos and is just fun to play with.

When all is said and done, the Nintendo 3DS may actually accomplish what Fuji has been promoting and what many 3D hobbyists have tried: popularizing 3D photography for everyday use.

And, yes, we know that it's a gimmick. But it's a cool gimmick.

After taking a few 3D pictures of just about anything, you'll find that they are so compelling that it is hard to express the odd joy you get from them. This is the key to the eventual success of home 3D. It has always failed in the past, because it was somebody else's 3D. It was never personal.

Photography itself never flourished as a hobby when the cameras were the big bulky clunkers utilized by Matthew Brady and others. Think about this. Photography was nothing new during the Civil War in the 1860's, but all the photos were done by a limited number of pros. You have to wonder what the Civil War would have been like if everyone had a cell phone camera like we do today.

Then Kodak produced the Brownie and gave photography to everyman. Next thing you knew, photography became the number one hobby in the world. 3D is following that same pattern. It's just odd that a game company, Nintendo, is the Kodak and the 3DS is the Brownie.


Fuji is the only one that has been promoting 3D photography to any extent, but the seriousness of its efforts are questionable. The company seems intent on being a marginal player and is hardly promoting its 3D cameras. How many people reading this column knew that Fuji is the leader in consumer 3D cameras?

It's okay, since Nintendo will pick up the slack. If the 3DS is a success, I would hope the company pushes the 3D angle to the next level, which is to create 3D video that can be played on a big screen 3D TV.

I suggest this because, again, here is where Fuji dropped the ball. There is nothing more boring than people's home videos of little Becky's birthday party that were filmed with flip-cam. But the exact same event becomes oddly compelling and interesting when shot and viewed in 3D. Instead of watching a flat two-dimensional replay of the event, 3D puts you into the moment, as if you were actually there.

3D movie-making adds a whole new dimension to the 3D hobby. While it is inconvenient to set up the 3D TV and outfit people with glasses, it's still fun to watch on the small 3D screen without the glasses.

Before I get too carried away, let's back off and logically look at how this whole 3D thing will unfold.

Be assured that small 3D screens do work well, and combine that with the fact that making 3D pictures and movies is a lot of fun, and it will trigger all sorts of uses for 3D. But who are the most aggressive makers of handheld devices with small LCD screens? The mobile phone handset makers, of course.

So it's obvious that someone will come out with a 3D mobile phone, and the likelihood of it being Apple is quite high. The iPhone 3D would be a good moniker.

When Apple goes 3D you can be assured that all the 3D naysayers will change their tune from "it's a fad" to "3D finally done right!" But when the history is written, I think the Nintendo 3DS will be recognized as the father of it all.

This article, written by John C. Dvorak, originally appeared on PCMag.com and is republished on Gear Live with the permission of Ziff Davis, Inc.

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