Just 18% of all televisions shipped in North America during the first quarter of 2012 were equipped with Internet connectivity and included a branded portal with access to over-the-top content, according to NPD DisplaySearch.
Worldwide, nearly 20% of all TVs shipped worldwide in Q1 were smart TVs, with the highest penetration in Japan with 36% followed by China at 30% and Western Europe at 29%.
Among manufacturers, Sony Electronics had the highest ratio of smart TV shipments, as 50% of its TV units shipped in the period included smart TV features, according to NPD DisplaySearch. Other major smart TV brands included Phillips at about 35%, Sharp at just under 30%, Samsung Electronics at around 25% and Panasonic at 20%.
"Connected TV is largely driven by content," NPD DisplaySearch director of TV electronics research Paul Gray said. "Where there are compelling things to watch, the Internet becomes a major source of entertainment. We are now seeing a second stage of evolution as Internet video relocates from a PC screen onto the TV screen."
NPD DisplaySearch defines a smart TV as being able to access a branded portal and service, not just publicly available platforms such as YouTube.
By region, the largest shipments of smart TVs were in China with almost 3 million smart TVs shipped. Western Europe was second, with 2.1 million units shipped, while North America was third with almost 1.4 million units shipped. According to the research firm, consumers in China have a shortage of structured services and are turning to the Internet for content to view on TV.