3D TV has been pushed hard by television manufacturers since the beginning of 2010 following the remarkable success of Avatar 3D at cinemas worldwide, but it should come as no surprise when a market research firm forecasts that sales of 3D TVs is to be far outstripped by sales of Internet-Enabled Televisions or IETVs (defined as television sets which boast integrated capabilities to access internet content and to support thin-client web widgets such as Yahoo Connected TV) in the coming years.
iSuppli, a leading market research and consulting firm in the electronics industry, released some figures to back up its prediction. 3DTV shipments should hit 4.2 million units this year globally, growing to 12.9 million units next year and 60.5 million units in 2014. Internet TVs, on the other hand, will reach global shipment volumes of 27.7 million units in 2010, swelling to 148.3 million by 2014 (i.e. more than double the numbers expected to be racked up by 3D TVs).
The main cause for this is simply down to the big difference in switching costs. 3D TV displays are still stuck in the early-adopters phase, requiring a sizable premium over non-3D models to purchase, whereas more and more TV makers are incorporating Internet TV/ Web TV functionalities as standard even in some of their low-to-midrange HDTVs at no extra cost. And when potential 3DTV buyers factor in the prices of 3D glasses (if not included with the 3D TV) and 3D source devices like 3D Blu-ray players and discs, the cumulative cost to upgrade may be difficult to swallow even for serial early adopters particularly in these economically difficult times.
A conspicuous lack of 3D content, and hardware incompatibilities between competing brands are other elements that cause 3D TVs to lag behind Internet-Enabled TVs in terms of sales growth, according to Riddhi Patel, director and chief analyst in the Television Systems & Retail Services department at iSuppli. She suggested that instant gratification (users only need to plug their TVs to their internet broadband network to start accessing readily available web content) and a gush of partnership deals between TV manufacturers and content providers (which ensures an ever increasing flow of available internet content) are responsible for propelling Internet TV into the mainstream as early as this year.