15 Million 3DTVs by 2012

Futuresource has announced a study that predicts an installed base of 15 million 3DTVs in the U.S. by the end of next year. They point to the increased content that is becoming available as the driving force behind this forecast. And other prognosticators are saying that this figure is way too high, especially when you consider how long it took HDTV to get traction.

I take a different view. According to various sources, there were 35 to 40 million HDTVs sold in the U.S. in 2010. This number is expected to grow in 2011 and 2012 as the economy continues to recover. I also see that the competition for sales is not going to get any easier. Manufacturers are worn out competing on price, so the only hope they have to stop the steady 20% drop in prices year after year is to deliver more value. Cell phone makers have been doing this for years. And we’re seeing it in HDTVs: LED backlights, Internet connectivity, and all sorts of other bells and whistles. Well, 3D support will be just one more bell and whistle to put in the box. If just one out of every seven or eight sets sold in the next two years have 3D support built in, it won’t be that much of a stretch to hit the 15 million installed base target.

Now I’ll freely admit that most of those sets will be bought without glasses, but many of the Internet-ready sets aren’t connected to home networks either. Consumers are happy to “future-proof” their purchases to make sure that they don’t get obsolete too quickly. So I expect that they’ll get the 3D set but not the glasses until the available content makes it a compelling proposition. That’s what I’d do; wouldn’t you?