El Segundo, Calif. - A shift in marketing and promotional strategies combined with price declines and increased content availability has lifted worldwide shipments of 3DTVs by 463 percent to 23.4 million units in 2011, according to new research from IHS iSuppli.
According to the study entitled: "Can 3-D Increase TV's Appeal to Consumers?" 3DTV shipments have expanded by a factor of 5.5 from 4.2 million units last year, IHS said, and another year of triple-digit growth is expected in 2012 when shipments are forecast to soar by 132 percent to 54.2 million units.
Global shipments will breach the 100-million-unit mark by 2014 and then hit 159.2 million in 2015, IHS said.
IHS iSuppli Figure: Worldwide 3-D TV Shipment Forecast
Millions of units
"In a major recalibration effort, television brands are changing strategies this year following lukewarm response to 3D in 2010 when consumers balked at the high price of sets and the lack of 3-D content," stated Riddhi Patel, HIS television systems and retail services director. "In 2011, however, brands are marketing 3-D not as a must-have technology but as a desirable feature, similar to the approach they have taken with Internet connectivity."
Manufacturers are using the new 3D promotional approach to allow consumers to decide whether they wish to use the feature when they are ready, while convincing them that their newly purchased television is future-proofed, Patel noted.
"This gives consumers the appearance of having the choice to use a feature already present in a purchase that they made, instead of forcing them to buy a technology for which they might be unprepared, according to the television brands," according to the report.
Meanwhile, prices have fallen for 3DTVs as content availability has increased, giving consumers more incentive to buy.
Prices for 3D TVs fell 9 percent during March 2011 compared with February, according to the monthly IHS iSuppli U.S. TV Price and Specifications Tracker.
Within the next year, prices will shift again, while opening adoption to a wider range of income brackets.
Also benefitting from the trend will be broadcasters of 3D, who are ramping up content "to dispel the public perception of a serious lack in currently available 3D content for consumption."
From the launch of 3D TV services in June 2010 for the United States, and then in October the same year for the United Kingdom, more than 80 live sources of 3D broadcast or pay-TV content had been delivered by the end of 2010, IHS said.
Among the additional 3D content coming this year will be sports-related events followed by prime-time entertainment, films and documentaries.
As for consumer issues with 3D glasses, IHS notes that more options are now available with the advent of new Film Patterned Retarder (passive) glasses systems joining active shutter glasses sets that are generally perceived as delivering better picture quality.
The passive technology is both expanding availability of 3D to screen sizes as small as 32-inches, and reducing the overall cost of ownership.
By 2015, passive 3D shipments will surpass those of active 3D, IHS expects.
The study said that LCD technology will remain dominant in the 3D TV market, accounting for 83 percent of 3D TVs sold in 2011.
In comparison, plasma 3D penetration is higher although the overall numbers will be much smaller than LCD.
Plasma makers are hopeful that the new 3D technology will slow the decline of the plasma market segment.
The 3D TV share of the global flat-panel market will continue to rise in the years to come, jumping to 11 percent in 2011 from 2 percent last year, and then doubling next year to 22 percent, IHS said.
By 2015, 3D TVs will account for 52 percent of flat-panel shipments.
The most popular 3D TV size during 2011 will be in the 40- to 41-inch range, numbering about 3.3 million units; followed by the 55- to 59-inch range, with shipments of 2.9 million units; and the 45- to 46-inch range, with 2.7 million units.