Love it or hate, 3D TV is apparently here to stay, industry experts and television makers say.
Introduced earlier this year, 3D televisions still only make up a small portion of sales but they’re doing quite well for a nascent technology. Samsung, which holds the pole position in HDTV sales in the United States, says it’s optimistic that 3D will be widely embraced.
“The industry, technology, and consumers are all ready for 3D experiences in the home,” said a Samsung spokeswoman. “First, as the number of 3D theaters and 3D movie titles increases, so will consumer demand for 3D experiences in the home. Second, the finalization of the Blu-ray 3D standard is helping to make more 3D content available in the home. Finally, additional content, such as sporting events, concerts, and even games, is becoming available. 3D is more than just a groundbreaking technology – it’s the future of television, and Samsung is committed to bringing this immersive viewing experience to consumers everywhere.”
Samsung’s not the only one bullish on 3D TV. Most industry analysts expect 3D TV sales to take off in the next few years.
Pietro Macchiarella, a research analyst covering the 3D space for Parks Associates, said he expects 70 percent of the HDTVs sold by 2014 to be 3D-ready.
Even with 3D capability available, Macchiarella said it’s not likely people will watch the news in 3D. He thinks 3D will only be used for some sporting events, movies, and gaming. But what about reports that 3D sales in Europe are flagging? A survey of 120 retailers conducted by market research firm GfK indicates that just 25,000 3D televisions have sold so far on that continent.
Macchiarella said European adoption rates of 3D may be depressed because of limited 3D content on local cable and satellite stations, as well as the worsening financial situation. In the United States, 3D sales are doing somewhat better. The Consumer Electronics Association pegs the total 3D TV sets sold in the United States this year at 1.05 million, which represents just under 3 percent of TV sales.
Worldwide, most analyst firms are forecasting from 7 to 10 million 3D TV sets sold. That seems to match what television makers are predicting. Quoting an unnamed source, DigiTimes reported that Samsung is expected to ship 2.6 million 3D sets, with Sony moving 2.2 million, Panasonic 1.1 million, and LG Electronics shipping 1 million sets.
If HD TV sales hit the 250 million unit mark this year, that would make the 7 million sets sold just 3 percent.
Not impressed? Samsung officials say that while modest, 3D TV sales are outpacing the sales of LED TVs when they were introduced a year ago.
Parks Associates; Macchiarella said there’s another reason he thinks the majority of TVs sold in four years will be 3D capable: cost. He said the cost increase to make an HDTV 3D-ready is about 15 percent. Right now, TV manufacturers are charging about a 35 percent premium for the feature, so it’s worth pushing. That 15 percent will in turn continue to drop, which will help make the technology ubiquitous.