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3D Glasses War Rages On As Vizio And LG Defend Passive Tech

7/18/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern
ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J. – The passive vs. activeshutter 3D glasses technology war waged on this month as representatives from LG and Vizio fired salvos back at Sony and Samsung for using confusing sales claims to pump up the credibility of their active-shutter TV technologies.

After Samsung and Sony senior VPs cited NPD Group consumer sell-through data for the past month showing active-shutter TV sales with nearly 90 percent market share in the 3D space, a Vizio representative snapped back that NPD’s sales data does not track sales from several leading national retail accounts, including Walmart, and therefore does not reflect a complete sales performance picture.

Vizio is a market share leader for LCD TV sales in the U.S., according to several market analysts’ first-quarter reports, and has a substantial stake in selling 3DTVs using passive 3D glasses technology. Vizio 3DTVs also use LG-sourced 3D LCD panels.

A spokesperson for NPD defended the firm’s “retailer panel” to TWICE, acknowledging “the well-known fact” that the panel does not include Walmart but does include “hundreds” of other retailers, the names of which cannot be released due to reporting agreements.

“The arrival of 3DTVs using film-type patterned retarder or passive technology represents an important new option that NPD will continue to track,” said Ross Rubin, NPD Group industry analysis director. “While NPD’s [point-of-sale] data for consumer electronics does not include some large retailers, including Walmart, our consumer data provides a view of brand share across all U.S. retailers and channels. In addition, the latest wave of NPD’s 3D 360 Degree Monitor research includes independent research on consumer awareness of the terms ‘active’ and `passive’ to describe 3D technologies, and consumer preferences regarding the tradeoffs of each approach.”

LG touched off a volatile media exchange last month after releasing the findings of a consumer study it commissioned testing one of its passive Cinema 3D LCD TVs in separate head-to-head comparisons against a Sony active-shutter 3DTV and a Samsung active-shutter 3D.

LG said the study, which was conducted for LG by Morpace, indicated that nearly 80 percent of consumers participating selected the LG Cinema 3DTV as the better product for a variety of reasons, including picture quality and comfort.

One day after releasing the findings, LG launched newspaper ads in the USA Today, the Wall Street Journal and on its billboard in Times Square to announce the results saying: “Hey/Sony and Samsung/Better Stick To 2D.”

Mike Abary, Sony Electronics Home Division senior VP, sent TWICE an email rebutting LG’s claims, saying consumers actually prefer active-shutter (or active lens as Sony calls it) 3D technology.

“Customers are choosing with their wallets,” Abary said, echoing a theme that Samsung senior VP John Revie also cited in defending his company’s active-shutter 3DTVs from the same attack. “Active is outselling passive by about 6-to-1, according to NPD May 2011 data.”

Abary claimed that Sony’s active-lens technology delivers the best and brightest 3D images available on the market.

“Especially important is that only our activeshutter technology delivers HD in both 2D and 3D,” Abary said. “Sony creates the highestperforming 3D products for consumers.”

“To view great 3D images, you must start with great HD images,” noted Abary. “Sony remains committed to 3D across all companies and product categories — lens to living room.”

Jay Vandenbree, LG senior VP, responded to charges by Abary and Samsung senior VP John Revie with a letter to dealers reiterating the better than 4:1 survey results favoring LG Cinema 3DTVs and added that LG’s sets just earned top-ranked reviews in its class of 3DTVs by a leading consumer magazine.

“Consumers’ clear preference for passive 3D has caused some in the industry to react with misleading statements, so we wanted to take this opportunity to set the record straight: again with the consumer in mind. While active [shutter] flicker 3D currently has the bigger market share, that’s not the core issue. Until very recently, consumers have had no alternative. We’ve already seen momentum toward LG Cinema 3D in the short time it’s been available.”

Vandenbree said that at launch, LG’s Cinema 3D HDTVs quickly rose to be top-selling models, “which clearly caused the competition to take notice — so much so that they’re willing to engage in the mud-slinging tactics they said they would avoid, such as publishing ads with black bars and distributing in-store props to attack competing formats. It also made them reactive enough to slash prices.”

“Consumers favor passive 3D technology, like LG Cinema 3D, because they prefer every aspect of the passive 3D TV experience. At LG, we’re committed to giving consumers the technology and viewing experiences they prefer — not the technology we have and need to sell,” Vandenbree said.

“Unlike some competitors who are making technology claims that may well confuse consumers, our approach is basic — focus on the consumer benefits and what real consumers think about Cinema 3D,” Vandenbree said.
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