By Patrick Avenell
In the frantic rush to get 3D TVs out onto the market, leading suppliers made mistakes that led to disappointing sales results, according to Brian Markwalter, the senior vice president, research and standards, of the Consumer Electronics Association, the industry group that organises the annual CES conference in Las Vegas.
In Sydney to speak at the Australia Broadcasting Summit and to promote the 2013 International CES, Markwalter said the extreme competitiveness of the major suppliers compelled them to act too quickly, resulting in confusion and a lack of a clear message about 3D.
“Because it’s such a competitive industry, once they all know what the other one was doing, they all rushed headlong into 3D — and then the reality hit: we need content, we need glasses, we need retailers to understand how to show this stuff,” Markwalter told Current.com.au.
As a result of this passionate intensity, the hype surrounding 3D outweighed the ability of the suppliers to deliver hardware, a problem exacerbated by the paucity of native 3D content at the time. Markwalter used the phrase “over amplified” to describe the prevailing sentiment.
When asked for specific errors made by the major suppliers, Markwalter identified a lack of standardisation across the category, while also questioning the preparedness of the suppliers and retailers. In and ideal world, Markwalter said, the standards would have been in place before the products went to the market.
“There’s a whole supply chain here: there’s the [TV] companies and the retailers [that] had to be prepared. We could have paced ourselves and got the content lined up — we probably needed some standards in place for the eyewear — everybody was doing their own thing for a long while.
“CEA has done a standard we’ve just completed, and there’s a consortium of Sony and Samsung and some other companies, so we probably got things a little out of order, but that’s the hyper competitive nature of our industry. Sometimes that’s beneficial, sometimes we get things out of order, and we got a little out of order.”
In good news for retailers, Markwalter believes the devastating price erosion that has affected flat panel TVs has finally plateaued, but not before causing significant damage to several major suppliers.
“It’s finally bottoming out. We’ve had stunning price declines in LCD TV,” he said. “When the volume was okay...the price declines outran the volume increases, so the industry has gone from around US$1,200 (AU$1,118) and seems to be bottoming out around US$500 (AU$466) — that seems to have stabilised.
“It’s just that the industry is so competitive, when you look at Panasonic and Sony, they’ve both posted big losses.”