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3D TV: Minority interest for years to come

Regular HD TVs swim in mainstream

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Anyone hoping that 3D TV will greatly boost the consumer electronics industry will find the latest research from DisplaySearch less than comfortable reading, despite its affirming headline data.

The market watcher estimates 1.2m 3D-capable HD TVs will ship this year, which sounds like a large number. DisplaySearch expects the annual total to rise to 15.6m units - an even more impressive figure - in 2013 and then to 64m in 2018.

That's colossal annual growth. But before you prepare to welcome our new 3D overlords, let us consider the overall HD TV market.

DisplaySearch also posts its forecast for "connected" TVs - TVs with on-board networking so they can access the internet through a home broadband router - and it believes around 73m will ship in 2012. The same year will see around 9m 3D TVs ship,.

In other words, connected HD TVs will outship 3D TVs by a factor of more than eight. Even if we assume all 3D TVs are connected TVs, that still means more than seven times as many non-3D TVs will ship than 3D-capable ones.

And that's before you factor in the number of HD TVs that ship that are neither connected nor equipped with 3D technology. Last year, DisplaySearch forecast 2010 LCD TV shipments will total 171m units. That's ignoring plasma and OLED.

Subtract the number of 3D TVs and the number of connected TVs from that - not an entirely justified calculation because some tellies will do both, but let's be conservative - and you're left with 131.8m non-3D, not connected screens.

Alas, we don't have a figure for projected TV sales in 2012, but even if there's no growth between now and then, non-3D models will outsell 3D TVs by 18:1.

Even by 2018, that means 3D TVs will be outsold by non-3D models by almost two times - and, again, that assumes no growth in the overall telly market.

So, based on DisplaySearch's numbers, 3D is not going to enter the mainstream in the home anytime soon. More advanced TV markets may adopt it more keenly than others do, but it's still not going to become a mass upgrade movement. ®

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