twice connect
careers

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.