CEA Cuts 3DTV Forecast for '10

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The Consumer Electronics Association -- which last month
projected more than 4 million 3DTV sets would ship this year -- is now putting
the number at 1.05 million units, after narrowing the definition of what it
considers a 3D television set.

In December, the CEA had
estimated 2.2 million 3DTVs would ship in 2010. Then last month, as part of
announcing its 2010 sales forecast at the International Consumer Electronics
Show in Las Vegas, the trade group
raised projections to more than 4 million 3DTV sets for the year.

Now the CEA is
forecasting 1.05 million units will ship to dealers, representing $2.05 billion
in revenue. That implies an average price of $1,952 per unit for 3DTVs.

CEA spokesman Steve
Kidera said the previous figures were based on a broader definition for 3D
television sets. "The new definition clearly describes the different display
approaches inherent in today's 3DTV sets, and the new forecast better captures
the market opportunity," Kidera said.

Previously, the trade group loosely defined the 3D
television category by minimum screen-refresh rate (to be capable of rendering
left- and right-eye images), and the prior projections encompassed HDTVs that
had refresh rates of 120 Hz or higher.

According to the CEA's
new definition, a 3DTV is a digital television that has HDMI 1.4 support for a
3D video source using at least one industry-standard format aside from anaglyph
(the old-fashioned red-and-blue stereoscopic technique). The HDMI licensing entity released version 1.4 of the HDMI spec publicly Feb. 3, and plans to add support for multiple broadcast 3D formats in a follow-on version, 1.4a.

Furthermore, a 3DTV for the CEA's
forecasting purposes must include support for at least one of the following 3D
display approaches: active shutter glasses through a built-in emitter, or a
jack for an accessory emitter, with matching active shutter glasses available
with the product or sold separately as an accessory; polarized glasses through
a polarized display filter with matching polarized glasses available with the
product or separately as an accessory; or an autostereoscopic display -- i.e.,
one that requires no glasses -- such as those using lenticular lens or parallax
barrier technologies.

The revised CEA forecast
is in line with projections from research firm DisplaySearch, a subsidiary of
NPD Group, which put 3DTV unit shipments at 1 million for 2010 and increasing
to 9 million by 2012.

At CES, 3DTV was a major focus, with Panasonic, Sony, LG
Electronics, Toshiba and Vizio announcing new 3D televisions and Blu-ray Disc
players, while programmers, including Discovery Communications and ESPN, touted
plans for new 3D content.

ESPN is gearing up to debut a limited 3DTV channel with the
June 11 broadcast of the first match of the FIFA World Cup, and DirecTV is
readying three dedicated 3D channels for June. Discovery, meanwhile, announced
a joint venture with Sony and IMAX to launch
a 24-hour linear 3D service in 2011 with movies, documentaries and children's
programming.

Some programmers are expecting the adoption curve of 3DTV to
mimic that of high-definition. Discovery founder and chairman John Hendricks
predicted that about 5 million households would be "early adopters" that
purchase a 3DTV set within the next 24 to 36 months, with another approximately
20 million affluent households that would subsequently adopt the technology.

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