3D TV shipments up 500% in 2011

Worldwide shipments of 3D TVs will jump by 463 per cent to reach 23.4 million units in 2011, according to IHS iSuppli research.  The 3D TV projections in 2011 represent startling growth for the much-publicised technology, with shipments expanding by a factor of 5.5 from 4.2 million units last year. Another year of triple-digit growth is expected in 2012, when shipments will soar by 132 per cent to 54.2 million units. Global shipments will breach the 100-million-unit mark by 2014 and then hit 159.2 million in 2015.

“In a major recalibration effort, television brands are changing strategies this year following lukewarm response to 3D in 2010 when consumers balked at the high price of sets and the lack of 3D content,” said Riddhi Patel, director for television systems and retail services at IHS. “In 2011, however, brands are marketing 3D not as a must-have technology but as a desirable feature, similar to the approach they have taken with Internet connectivity.”

Brands believe this approach to promoting 3D allows consumers to decide whether they wish to use the feature when they are ready, while convincing them that their newly purchased television is future-proofed, Patel noted. This gives consumers the appearance of having the choice to use a feature already present in a purchase that they made, instead of forcing them to buy a technology for which they might be unprepared, according to the television brands.

To further motivate consumers to buy 3D TVs, brands are slashing prices. Prices for 3D TVs fell 9 per cent during March 2011 compared to February, according to the US TV Price and Specifications Tracker. Within the next year, prices will shift again, in accordance with the feature mix dictated by public preferences at the moment—a process expected to democratise 3D adoption among consumers in all income brackets.

Broadcasting of 3D also will enjoy an uptake, helping to dispel the public perception of a serious lack in currently available 3D content for consumption. From the launch of 3D TV services in June 2010 for the US, and then in October the same year for the UK, more than 80 live sources of 3D broadcast or pay-TV content had been delivered by the end of 2010. More programming will be available this year, topped by sports-related events and then followed by primetime entertainment, films and documentaries.

Options also are arising for the 3D glasses that are required for 3D TV viewing. While the current active shutter glasses provide better picture quality, an alternative known as passive Film Patterned Retarder (FPR) not only will expand availability in sizes as small as 32-inches, but also will reduce the overall cost of ownership, with the glasses being more user friendly as well. By 2015, passive 3D shipments will surpass those of active 3D, IHS expects.

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