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Connected TVs Account for 21% of 2010 Global Unit Shipments

29 Dec, 2010 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Strong growth in Japan, China and Western Europe helped worldwide shipments of Internet-connected televisions reach 21% of total unit shipments in 2010, according to a new forecast.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based DisplaySearch said Japan and China — the latter saw 12% of all flat-panel TVs sold feature connectivity — helped buttress a slow start for Web-enabled TV sales in the United States and North America.

While connected TVs will play center stage at the annual International Consumer Electronics Show confab in Las Vegas, No. 1 CE retailer Best Buy said initial consumer response to connectivity and 3DTV through Black Friday (Nov. 26) remained meek.

Regardless, DisplaySearch said emerging markets in Eastern Europe and the Far East would again drive connected TV shipments in 2011. Specifically, shipments in Eastern Europe are projected to grow from 2.5 million units this year to 10 million units in 2014.

Connected TVs should reach 122 million units shipped by 2014, up nearly 4% from previous projections in October.

Paul Gray, director of European TV research with DisplaySearch, said initial excitement over Google TV (now muted a bit by content embargoes) suggests myriad possibilities for connected TVs, including browsing and search functionality, expanded user interfaces and upgrade capabilities.

While Gray might be putting the cart way out in front of the horse, he said increased demands imposed by growing numbers of connected TVs could put the entire broadband infrastructure in jeopardy of overload.

“The looming risk now is what happens if every connected TV gets used,” Gray said. “With Netflix accounting for 20% of peak Internet traffic in the U.S., it’s reasonable to ask if the infrastructure can cope. Set makers need to understand that broadband access does not scale endlessly like broadcast reception.”

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