3DTV 2011: Set Sales Get Failing Grade So Far


New York -- A big fat D.
That is the grade given to the rollout of 3DTV by Tom Galanis, operations vice president for Sixth Avenue Electronics.

In a wide-ranging interview conducted by TWICE executive editor Greg Tarr at NewBay Media's "3DTV 2011 What's Next?" conference, held here on Nov. 18, Galanis was blunt in describing 3D's introduction to the public.

"As an industry we could have done a better job launching it. We should have had standardized glasses and we should have presented it to the consumer as a feature of a higher quality television," he said.

Galanis described 3D TV sales forecasts of 3 million to 5 million sets for 2011 as a little high. He said stores with a trained sales staff, like Sixth Avenue, are better-positioned to sell 3DTV, due to the complicated nature of the product, which includes explaining why the person should spend more on the technology.

This includes the active matrix glasses required by many models, which Galanis pointed to as the primary stumbling block.

"Glasses, if you didn't have them, it would have been a victory for 3D," Galanis said, adding the current pricing structure for the glasses is well above what the average consumer is willing to pay.

"I think $50 to $60 is what people are willing to spend and aftermarket [glasses] sales are not going well. People are only taking the bundled glasses," he said.

The industry trend for next year to go from the more expensive active shutter glasses to passive may not solve the problem. Galanis said the last thing the industry needs is another standard, plus passive glasses do not deliver the same level of performance as their active shutter cousins.

To battle this problem the industry needs to standardize the equipment and target the marketing toward certain types of programming. He described these as spectacle types of shows.

There were a few bright points. Galanis said the average selling price of a 3D TV is around $1,700 compared with the $1,000 for a standard TV sale. Consumers also have not expressed worry over the various health issues -- like headaches and seizures -- that have surrounded the technology.

Sixth Avenue customers are also leaning toward plasma-based 3D TVs over LCD models. Galanis attributed this to the plasma display's faster refresh, which delivers a better 3D experience.

Galanis said selling 3DTV should get easier as more content in the format becomes available and the growing interest in IPTV will help sales.

"Right now more people are interested in IPTV than 3D. However, if a person wants IPTV they would probably want 3D," Galanis said, adding these customers want bleeding edge technology.

Sixth Avenue is not counting on 3DTV to be a big driver on Black Friday since that is a price-driven event and 3D TV is still too expensive.

He does think consumers would come out during the holiday shopping period, despite the tough sales environment that is currently in place.