Despite a huge push by the Consumer Electronics industry at the January 2010 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, worldwide sales of 3DTVs totalled just 3.2 million units in 2010 according to a recent DisplaySearch report.

With Global television sales expected to have come in at around 242 million units in 2010, it means 3DTV sets accounted for only about 1.3% of overall sales.

Researchers say the primary reason for lacklustre sales was the lack of 3D content and clunky overpriced glasses.

“TV manufacturers really got ahead of themselves in 2010, and they forgot that a TV is a tool to watch content,” said Paul Gray, Director of TV Electronics Research at DisplaySearch. “People will only buy a 3D TV if there is enough content to watch, and in 2010, there simply was not enough 3D content available.”

The company's research shows that only 40 3D Blu-ray disc titles were available across all genres at the end of 2010, hardly enough to drive consumers into local big box retailers.

Despite the slow start, Gray believes that 3D will become a compulsory feature in coming years. Going forward, DisplaySearch predicts that about 18 million 3D sets will be shipped in 2011, rising to over 91 million in 2014.

In its report, DisplaySearch also examined systems with 3D passive glasses, which launched in China in December 2010. These are being offered as an alternative to the existing shutter glasses types, which have significant drawbacks, including high costs, weight, the need for re-charging, and limited interoperability.

“What is disturbing, though, is the prospect of a format war,” said Gray. “It would be very damaging and consumers would opt to wait if they sense obsolescence, especially when they are already cautious about spending.”

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