– The dawn of the new 3D TV age has gotten off to a somewhat slower-than-expected pace over the first two quarters of the year, a factor that may trigger fourth-quarter price moves, Quixel Research said.
According to a Q2 TV sales reports from Portland, Ore.-based Quixel Research, manufacturers shipped just 327,552 3D TV sets to U.S. dealers, through the second quarter of 2010.
Quixel said its numbers come directly from U.S. marketing executives of the various manufacturers.
“That number is not too surprising,” said Quixel principal Tamaryn Pratt. “We didn’t expect a glut of sales in the first half because most of the models were planned for late in the year. Most of the sales will come later this year.”
Pratt’s firm originally forecast total U.S. sales of 2.6 million 3D-capable TV sets in full year 2010, although she added that more realistically the number might decrease to around 2.1 million, given the pace established over the first half of the year.
“The final number will be nowhere near the number that some manufacturers had at the beginning of the year of between 3 million and 4 million units,” she said.
However, she said that if manufacturers push price points down below $2,000 on more SKUs, they will have an opportunity to drive much more volume as the holiday shopping period approaches, she said.
As manufacturers including Sony and LG have added 3D models in the back half of the year, Pratt said the pace of sales should pick up, significantly. One positive indicator that the surge is coming in the weeks ahead, she said, comes from Samsung’s recent release of the PN50C490 720p 3D plasma TV, which is seeing street retails as low as $989.
“We understand from retailers and manufacturers that if someone is comparing a 2D 1080p model and a 3D 720p model, and the pricing on the 3D model is within a few hundred bucks, consumers will go for the 720p,” said Pratt.
She acknowledged that most of the pushback consumers are expressing over 3D comes from the higher-priced tickets.
Just 10 out of 49 3D TV models of all kinds announced for the U.S. by five manufacturers as of September had suggested retail prices of less than $2,000.
“Overall, 10 to 11 percent of HDTV sales for the entire U.S. market in the first quarter of 2010 and in all of 2009 were above $2,000,” Pratt said.
“So, just be the fact that 3D TVs this year are so expensive, you are not going sell many.”
“But this quarter I think you are going to see a lot more sales activity, because as of August, we have already seen the prices start to come down to keep the pace of sales that they need in general,” Pratt said.
However, she warned manufacturers that if pricing is not reduced, consumers may continue to hold off purchases of 3D TV models.
“In this economy, significant numbers of people will not be able to spend $3,000,” she said.
Pratt said because Samsung has introduced the entry price for a 3D TV this year in its 720p 50-inch 3D plasma, the company is poised to be the runaway market share brand for the new technology.
Some reports cite Samsung officials claiming 88.3 percent of the U.S. 3D TV marketshare so far this year, adding that they have already shipped more than 1 million units into the country through the end of August.
However, Pratt said that number does not jibe with figures she was given by executives on the U.S. side.
In July, Samsung reported second-quarter net income jumped 83 percent to a record 4.28 trillion won ($3.6 billion). That’s more than four times the combined profit of Panasonic and Sony in the three months ending June 30.