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3D TV fails to excite, gesture UIs to flop: analyst

Apple, Sony, to pounce as connectivity craze catches

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3D television is not exciting global TV buyers, says analyst firm NPD.

While the firm notes that 3D now pops up in nearly 20% of global TV purchases for devices larger than 40 inches, Director of Industry Analysis Ben Arnold says “3D TV sales growth thus far has been more a function of the feature’s attachment to bigger screens than true demand for the technology.” Sixty eight percent of punters, he adds, think 3D is just “nice to have”.

Arnold also says 80% of punters, on NPD’s numbers, feel “wearing glasses is a hindrance to their adoption of 3D” and offers his point of view that for “new features to become ‘must haves’ for prospective TV buyers, they must enhance, rather than detract from the viewing experience.”

One new TV feature that does have that potential, he suggests, is connectivity.

“Sales of connected TVs are increasing (nearly 50 percent year-over-year unit growth in 2011) and connectivity is beginning to weigh into TV purchase decisions (NPD’s Consumer Tracker reports Internet connectivity was cited as an important factor in approximately one-in-five TV purchases last year),” Arnold writes. “The technology also has the benefit of timing, hitting the market as viewing habits shift online, content options offered by streaming services expand, and broadband adoption grows nationwide.”

A certain fruity company, he adds, may therefore be poised to cash in.

“Companies like Apple and Sony, owners of hardware and content assets, are best positioned to grow share in this market,” Arnold writes. “Though Apple has yet to announce plans for television, one-in-three U.S. households owns an Apple device (a large portion of these owners are likely using iTunes) making for a potentially huge installed base of content purchasers.”

But Arnold also pours cold water on any voice or gesture driven method for controlling the telly.

“I wonder how practical these technologies will be for everyday tasks like setting the DVR or navigating a channel guide,” Arnold asks, before noting that sales of high-end remote controls are tanking and suggesting that the smartphone may become One Remote To Rule Them All, as apps offer the chance to “allow users to easily (and affordably) control multiple devices with a single piece of software.” ®

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