NEW YORK –
For the past three years, most of the buzz in the TV display industry has emanated from premium 3D and Internet-connected TV features, but few technology developments have generated as much controversy. For the 2011 holiday season, the question is: Will this finally be the tipping point for these “features”?
The predictions of top market analysts are mixed.
“These are tough questions to answer,” said Paul Gagnon, DisplaySearch’s North American TV market research director. “3D still isn’t a huge driver of volume, and consumers seem a little reluctant to pony up for what are still some substantial premiums. In general, consumer demand seems focused on mainstream valueoriented models, not premium featured sets, including IPTV and 3D.”
DisplaySearch is forecasting about 13 percent of unit shipments in Q4 will be 3D. Sell-through levels may or may not follow that rate, depending on pricing and promotions, Gagnon said.
IPTV-enabled sets, he added, might account for 25 percent to 30 percent of units, “but a lot of that depends on a successful launch of Google TV 2.0,” he added.
Tamaryn Pratt, Quixel Research principal, said she believes sales of 3D and IPTV sets will pick up this season, primarily because consumers will be getting the capabilities in many new TVs, whether wanted or not.
“Both 3D and IPTV/smart TV sales are going to increase dramatically because those features are already baked into a large number of manufacturers’ sets, some at reasonable prices, especially in plasma TV models,” Pratt observed. “So the question should be rephrased from:
‘Are consumers using these features?’ to ‘How do we drive more usage?’ ”
Pratt said numbers show that consumers are using the different movie services with their connected IPTVs, but there has been little traction with other applications.
One issue is that other than Google TV, and that platform’s issues, the browser capabilities on today’s connected TVs are very restricted.
“This is clearly not what a consumer expects when sold a TV that can surf the web,” said Pratt. “Currently tablet sales are sucking up all the attention, but as manufacturers create platforms/ apps to converge the connected TV and tablet, we will see real use cases emerge.”
According to Quixel, connected TV sales are tracking to hit close to 50 percent of the 40-inch-and-larger market in 2011.
“Sales of 3D models (LCD TV, PDP and DLP) could reach as high as 4 million units this year depending on how aggressively manufacturers price them,” Pratt continued. “Similar to many new technologies, the ecosystem is still not ripe but we’re getting there. Glasses are getting lighter and cheaper — sometimes free — and there will be close to 100 3D movies released this year.
She said that next year “we’ll see 3D movies from directors like Martin Scorsese, George Lucas and Ridley Scott, offering real content as opposed to material tailored mainly to prepubescent males.”
“Just another reason to spend a little extra on an assisted sales floor,” she quipped.