Wednesday, July 7, 2010

3-D TVs are selling but not in huge numbers

LOS ANGELES — Barely settled into their first home together, Arman Galstyan and Carolyn Kaloostian were itching to buy a new television to go along with it.
But the Glendale, Calif., couple were not about to settle for just any big-screen, HD flat-panel.

It had to be 3-D.

"We had been wanting to get it, and when we heard they came out, we didn't even let a chance for competition to bring the prices down," said Kaloostian, 27, as her fiance paid the cashier at a Best Buy in Los Angeles.

"We just wanted to get the newest thing out," she said.

That's just what television manufacturers, who began rolling out a new generation of 3-D-capable sets amid much hype early this year, want to hear.

But the first sales figures on 3-D TVs and a newly released consumer survey indicate that the industry has a long way to go before the new technology catches on in a big way, if it ever does.

In the sets' first three months on the market, beginning in February, consumers nationwide spent about $55 million on new 3-D-capable TVs and related equipment, according to an NPD Group survey of some of the largest retailers carrying the products, including Best Buy and

Paul Gagnon, an analyst with DisplaySearch, calculated that based on the NPD figures, about 20,000 of the flat-panel sets were sold by those major retailers.

That's a tiny number compared with the approximately 7 million TVs overall that were shipped to retailers around that time frame, according to the Consumer Electronics Association trade group.

And a recent Parks Associates study showed that despite the success of several recent 3-D movies, awareness of the home technology is middling, even in the tech-savvy 18-to-34 age group.

"We don't see a large percentage of people going out of their way to go buy a new TV just because of 3-D," said Parks analyst Pietro Macchiarella.

He and other analysts say the slow going was to be expected — especially considering that the only major manufacturers with the new generation of 3-D sets available in the period were Samsung and Panasonic.

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