Shipment stats for 3D TVs jump out at researchers

Boosted by lower prices and a bigger marketing push, shipments of 3D TVs are expected to reach 23.4 million units this year, according to data gathered by IHS iSuppli.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
3 min read

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More 3D TVs than ever are going to be flying toward consumers this year, according to analysts at IHS iSuppli.

With lower prices, and with TV makers pushing 3D harder than ever, shipments of 3D sets are likely to jump by 463 percent this year to hit 23.4 million units from just 4.2 million last year, IHS iSuppli said. Eyeing the years ahead, shipments will climb by 132 percent in 2012 to reach 54.2 million. By 2014, consumers will be facing more than 100 million 3D TVs, followed by 159.2 million in 2015.

Last year, many consumers gave a collective yawn to 3D TV, turned off by the high prices and lack of content. As a result, TV makers this year are tweaking their marketing strategy to tout 3D not so much as a must-have feature but more as a desirable option, according to IHS iSuppli. Manufacturers also hope their new approach will convince customers to "future-proof" any new TVs they purchase by opting for 3D compatibility as a feature they can use when they're ready.

A further spur to the average buyer is that prices on 3D TVs are falling, dropping by 9 percent in March from February. Over the next year, IHS iSuppli expects prices to continue to shift as manufacturers attempt to reach out to consumers of different incomes.

But what about the actual content? Last year saw the launch of 3D TV services in both the U.S. and the U.K., adding up to about 80 live sources for broadcast and pay-TV 3D programming. This year should ring in even more 3D content, including sporting events, films, documentaries, and prime-time shows, notes IHS iSupply.

Yet another turnoff for viewers has been the clumsy 3D glasses they've been forced to wear. Though the current 3D spectacles, known as active shutter glasses, offer better picture quality, the industry will increasingly offer a different model called passive Film Patterned Retarder that will come in smaller sizes and cost less.

With the new push toward 3D, TV viewers not interested in the eye-popping allure of three dimensions may find themselves with a smaller array of choices when it comes to buying a new set in years to come. The share of the global flat-panel TV market captured by 3D TVs will continue to grow from just 2 percent last year to 11 percent this year and 22 percent next year. By 2015, 3D TVs will account for 52 percent of flat-panel shipments, according to IHS iSuppli.

CNET's 3D TV FAQ also points to potentially fewer choices for non-3D watchers over time.

"If you're buying a larger model and/or shopping at the middle to high end of TV makers' product lines...3D may be an inevitable feature. In 2011 most such TVs will be "3D-ready," meaning that they won't include active glasses but will display 3D given the right gear and content," according to the FAQ. "More importantly, it will be difficult to find such TVs that don't do 3D, and some makers, like Vizio with its passive models, have announced 3D models at relatively low price points in their lineups."