TV makers go the 3D way even as experts doubt them making hay

TV makers go the 3D way even as experts doubt them making hay

A Panasonic employee unveil a prototype model of the world's largest 152-inch plasma display panel. AFP

However, investors think it is still too early to put money on 3D. It took a decade for the cost of color TVs to fall enough to win acceptance in the United States, Japan’s Ichiyoshi Investment Management Chief Fund Manager Mitsushige Akino noted. Many consumers have only just unboxed new high-definition television screens, making them unwilling to spend on upgrading any time soon, analysts said.

There are only a few 3D TVs in the market today, with a 42-inch set selling for about US$1,000 and a 50-inch set selling for more than US$2,000. A 42-inch HD LCD TV costs about US$600-700. “A major impediment —— beyond making sure everybody has glasses —— is making sure there is something interesting to watch,” DisplaySearch Director (North American TV research) Paul Gagnon said. “ It’s not going to have the breadth of content that high definition has right now. It will take years to build that up.” Gagnon estimates some 1 million 3D television sets will ship worldwide in 2010 and a total of 9 million units of 3D TVs shipped in 2012. 3D is a big bet for a television industry looking for the next big thing after millions of households over the past five years bought flat-screen TVs for the living room, bedroom, and even kitchen and bathroom.

In Las Vegas on Wednesday, TV makers lined up to tout their latest 3D projects and products. Sony, Toshiba, Samsung, Panasonic all unveiled new products. But even Sony Chief Executive Howard Stringer was unclear on when 3D TV would hit its stride.
Before seeking a saviour in 3D, TV makers need to cut costs and fight to win in emerging economies, if they are to compete at all, Akino and other investors aver.

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