The 3D TV market will spend the next couple of years establishing itself and accumulating a base of content and devices (both TVs and Blu-ray players).
In 2013, according to ABI Research, market growth will start to accelerate, and shipments of 3D TV sets will approach 50 million in 2015.
"The 3D TV market is moving faster than expected," notes industry analyst Michael Inouye. "There was widespread skepticism that production models would be available so quickly. But by June this year many TV manufacturers had 3D models in their lineups. Most 3D TVs will be Internet-connected."
The popularity of 3D movies has been a primary driver. TV makers are looking for differentiation and a reason for premium pricing. With some of the biggest-selling movies ever in 3D, and customers willing to pay more for the experience, they saw an opportunity to bring that experience to the home.
But there are inhibiting factors. "Unfortunately the 3D movie experience doesn?t always translate well to the smaller screen," says Inouye. "Some sports programming is also problematical: wide fields and big stadiums just don?t lend themselves to 3D."
Another inhibitor is expense, adds digital home practice director Jason Blackwell. ?Not only do 3D TVs command high prices, but the active infrared glasses needed for the most common 3D technology can cost $150 a pair, and glasses from different manufacturers are incompatible.?
However gaming "makes a lot of sense" for 3D, say the analysts. There?s a huge installed base of game consoles, and both the Xbox 360 and the PS3 can support 3D content, and all PS3s support 3D Blu-ray.
"Everything looks good in HD, but not everything looks better in 3D," says Blackwell. "Content producers should be selective about what titles they assign to 3D production release."