TV sales jumped in 2010 but buyers waited on 3-D

Jan 05, 2011 By DANA WOLLMAN , AP Technology Writer

(AP) -- People are buying a lot of televisions but mostly passing on 3-D, according to a report released this week.

According to the research group DisplaySearch, TV manufacturers sold 247 million TVs worldwide in 2010 - a 17 percent increase over the previous year, when the world was embroiled in the worst of the .

But while TV sales were strong in Europe and Japan, in the U.S. consumers remained too spooked by the to splurge on a new set for most of the year.

"As unemployment remains high and consumers remain sensitive to price, budget-conscious consumers have been surprised by limited price declines," said Paul Gagnon, director of TV research in North America at DisplaySearch, adding that manufacturers chose to add premium features such as 3-D displays and instead of slash prices.

In all, manufacturers were only able to sell about 3.2 million 3-D televisions, which can cost more than $1,300. A high-definition television with an LCD screen can be had for less than $300.

But slow sales can't be blamed entirely on high prices - there just isn't enough 3-D content yet for consumers to watch. It'll take more three-dimensional movies, TV shows and games for shoppers to justify the price of a 3-D TV, analysts say.

Another content problem: Some popular 3-D movies are initially sold packaged with 3-D glasses - gear people with the special TVs already own. For instance, people can't buy "Avatar" by itself, but they can purchase the movie as part of a $350 kit from Panasonic Corp. that includes two pairs of glasses.

"TV manufacturers really got ahead of themselves in 2010, and they forgot that a TV is a tool to watch content," said Paul Gray, director of TV electronics research at DisplaySearch.

The future may see more 3-D content, if DisplaySearch's forecast is any indication. The research group expects sales of 3-D TVs to reach 91 million in 2014.

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