3-D TV: Japanese Take a Wait-and-See Approach

3-D TV glasses
3-D TV glasses

If you build it, will they come? In the case of Japanese consumers and 3-D TVs, the answer is more apt to be "no," says a Kakaku.com survey.

Done in June, Kakaku's survey found 67.4% of respondents indicated they'd take a pass on purchasing a 3-D TV. They cited several reasons: Wearing 3-D glasses tops the list, followed by high price tags for the sets and not enough 3-D content to warrant the purchase. Kakaku runs a Japanese price-comparison website, and Reuters reported on its survey Thursday.

Still, Samsung Electronics on Thursday raised its projected worldwide 3-D TV sales to over 3 million units this year, up from its previous forecast of 2 million, according to a Dow Jones report in Fox News. In boosting its projections, the electronics behemoth cited that the tight supply of 3-D display panels should loosen up later this summer or early fall, allowing it to meet demand that it currently can't fill.

The Next Wave?

In the U.S., one in five new TVs sold by 2013 is expected to be 3-D, according to market researcher In-Stat, which issued its own report earlier this week. In-Stat analyst Stephanie Ethier says high definition did create a wave of activity in the U.S. market not seen since the introduction of color and that 3-D TV promises to be the next significant innovation for living-room entertainment.

In-Stat's assessment and Samsung's increased forecast may help take away some of the sting from the Kakaku survey for TV makers looking to ride the phenomenal success of the 3-D movie Avatar -- and their ability to slap high prices on the new 3-D TVs. Sony (SNE) markets its Bravia 3-D HDTVs at prices that range from $2,700 to $3,500, while Panasonic's Class Viera (PC) sells for roughly $2,600 to $4,300.

On the content end, 3-D programming is starting to emerge, from the Master's golf tournament to porn. But by no means is 3-D programming and movies ubiquitous. The industry is just coming off its shift to high def. And while the funky blue and red cardboard 3-D glasses may be a thing of the past, consumers still need to don special specs to watch souped-up 3-D effects.

Kakaku's survey echos skepticism that some have aired amid the hype of 3-D TV. Tech titan Microsoft (MSFT), for example, is reportedly taking a wait-and-see approach, before doing anything beyond making its Xbox ready for 3-D TV.