Why Consumers Aren't Buying 3-D TVs

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Sales of 3-D televisions aren't growing as quickly as TV makers had expected this year, according to a third-quarter report from DisplaySearch on Tuesday.

The display market research firm forecasts that 3.2 million 3-D TVs will be shipped worldwide this year, with just under 1.6 million going to North America. That's less than the shipments of 3.4 million worldwide -- and just over 2 million in North America -- that DisplaySearch predicted back in July. All together, the company now expects 3-D sets will make up 2% of all flat-panel televisions shipped this year, compared with an anticipated 5% three months ago.

"North American consumers in particular appear to be playing a waiting game," Paul Gagnon, DisplaySearch's director of North America TV research, said in a statement. "Set makers have trained consumers to expect rapid price falls for new technology, and consumers seem happy to wait a little."

High prices and a lack of 3-D content are to blame for the slower-than-expected growth as cash-strapped consumers wait for prices to fall closer to conventional television prices, the company says. But DisplaySearch remains bullish, predicting that lower prices, more content and better technology will boost sales dramatically in the next four years. In fact, DisplaySearch raised its forecast for 2014. It now expects annual 3-D shipments will surge to about 90 million that year -- making up 41% of TV shipments -- instead of the 42.9 million -- or 37% -- previously anticipated.

In North America, conventional two-dimensional TVs also have seen lower-than-expected sales so far this year. Total TV shipments fell 3% in the second quarter, compared to the year-ago quarter, for the continent, DisplaySearch said last month. Meanwhile, global shipments jumped 26%.
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