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Report: Issues Loom as 3D TV Sales Pick Up

25 May, 2010 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Spurred by early adopters, sales of 3D televisions have begun to grow, despite issues regarding standardization, content availability and interoperability between required glasses, among other issues, according to a new report.

Worldwide shipments of 3D TVs — introduced to the market for the first time in March — are expected to reach 4.2 million units this year, then triple to 12.9 million units in 2011 and grow to more than 27.4 million units in 2012, according to iSuppli Group.

El Segundo, Calif.-based iSuppli said that among U.S. consumers surveyed who purchased a new television in the first quarter, 4% said they acquired one that was 3D capable, with 60% buying a 3D LCD-TV and the remaining 40% preferring a 3D plasma set.

By 2015, 3D TV shipments will reach 78.1 million units. As of April, 26 television models featured 3D capability, compared with 23 in March.

The research company said that despite establishment of a Blu-ray standard for 3D, other standards, including HDMI 1.4, SMPTE, CEA (for 3D glasses) and SCTE for 3D cable content, remain unresolved. 

In addition, interoperability between brands of 3D glasses and 3DTVs, and dealing with potential health hazards regarding prolonged eye exposure to 3D content, must be remedied for wider consumer adoption, according to the report.

“Although growth of 3D television sales appears to be assured during the next few years, mass consumer acceptance will not come until [these] critical issues are resolved,” said Riddhi Patel, principal analyst for television systems at iSuppli.

While consumers might expect 3D quality similar to the movie Avatar, achieving an equivalent experience will depend on content availability, among other factors, according to the report.

Cognizant of this fact, content providers and broadcasters alike are pooling efforts to develop event-driven 3D content. ESPN plans to launch the world’s first 3D network next at the World Cup soccer tournament, while Walt Disney, Sony Pictures and Fox have announced 3D Blu-ray title releases later this year.

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