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3D TV Sales Get Failing Grade So Far

New York – A big fat D.

That is the grade given to the rollout of 3D TV by Tom Galanis,
operations VP for Sixth Avenue Electronics.

In a wide-ranging interview conducted by TWICE executive editor
Greg Tarr at the NewBay Media 3DTV 2011 What’s Next? Conference, held here on Nov.
18, Galanis was blunt in describing 3D’s introduction to the public.

“As an industry we could have done a better job launching it. We
should have had standardized glasses and we should have presented it to the
consumer as a feature of a higher quality television,” he said.

Galanis described 3D TV sales forecasts of 3 million to 5 million
sets for 2011 a little high. He said stores with a trained sales staff, like
Sixth Avenue, are better positioned to sell 3D TV due to the complicated nature
of the product, which includes explaining why the person should spend more on
the technology.

This includes the active shutter glasses required by many models,
which Galanis pointed to as the primary stumbling block.

“Glasses, if you didn’t have them it would have been a victory
for 3D,” Galanis said, adding the current pricing structure for the glasses is well
above what the average consumer is willing to pay.

“I think $50 to $60 is what people are willing to spend and
aftermarket [glasses] sales are not going well. People are only taking the
bundled glasses,” he said.

The industry trend for next year to go from the more expensive active
shutter glasses to passive may not solve the problem. Galanis said the last
thing needed is another standard, plus passive glasses do not deliver the same
level of performance as their active shutter cousins.

To battle this problem the industry needs to standardize the
equipment and target the marketing toward certain types of programming. He
described these as spectacle types of shows.

There were a few bright points. Tarr said the average selling
price of a 3D TV is around $1,700 compared with the $1,000 for a standard TV
sale. Consumers also have not expressed worry over the various health issues —
like headaches and seizures — that have surrounded the technology.

Sixth Avenue customers are also leaning toward plasma-based 3D
TVs over LCD. Galanis attributed this to the plasma display’s faster refresh,
which delivers a better 3D experience.

Galanis said selling 3D TV should get easier as more 3D content
becomes available and the growing interest in IPTV will help sales.

“Right now more people are interested in IPTV than 3D. However,
if a person wants IPTV they would probably want 3D,” Galanis said, adding these
customers want bleeding edge technology.

Sixth Avenue is not counting on 3D TV to be a Black Friday driver
since that is a price-driven event and 3D TV is still too expensive.

He did think consumers would come out during the holiday shopping
period, despite the tough sales environment that is currently in place.