Manufacturers of 3-D TVs are getting a lump of coal this holiday season. High expectations for frothy sales have failed to materialize, and price cuts of more than 40% continue during this critical selling period.

Such lackluster sales have been a huge disappointment for the industry, which rolled out a plethora of 3-D sets at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year, after offering a sneak peak of the technology in 2009. Research firm DisplaySearch, in October, lowered its 3-D TV shipment projections to 1.6 million in North America for this year from its previous summer forecast of over 2 million.

And prices for the new technology remained compressed even as the sets first appeared in stores en masse, which doesn't bode well. Typically, manufacturers hope to capture their fattest profits right after a new product is introduced.

Funky Glasses and Missing Content

As a Wall Street Journal report notes, 3-D TVs initially were able to bring in a price point that was roughly several hundred dollars more than even high-end 2-D high-def TVs but now are beginning to see that premium shrink.

The souped-up sets have struggled to attract buyers, given their price, the shortage of 3-D content to go with them -- and the need to wear funky 3-D glasses. While manufacturers like Toshiba (TOSBF) are working to address the glasses issue and other makers are slashing prices, the scarcity of 3-D content to justify the purchase lingers.

DisplaySearch, however, remains bullish. The research firm estimates shipments will grow to over 90 million in 2014, making it a mainstream device by then, when it expects 3-D to account for 41% of all flat-panel shipments.

"Still Very Nascent"

When the 2011 CES rolls around on Jan. 6, 3-D technology is likely to be one of the top two trends in the new year.

"3D is still a very nascent home-entertainment technology, so 2011 will again represent an important catalyst in the evolution of 3D," writes Shawn Dubravac, chief economist and research director for the Consumer Electronics Association, in a blog post. "Expect to see more 3D than ever before. We'll start with bigger, more feature-rich 3D TVs -- a given. But 3D will expand wider than it did last year."

This year, Dubrava writes, 3-D technology at CES 2011 is expected to run the gamut of 3-D eyewear, 3-D without eyewear, 3-D in handheld mobile devices and 3-D technology in digital signage. Still, the key question remains: Will consumers be more willing buyers?

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The manufacturers have forgotten their history: too many people have limited stereopsis or end up with nasty headaches just watching 3-D content. It may only find its niche in the theatres as a new flick or with the young gamers, who tend to get less vertigo, headaches, and nausea.

December 22 2010 at 9:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

With the programming that is now on the airwaves, and the real lack of 3D content, why in hell would you lay out all that extra cash?? It is like putting the horse behind the cart! If you are into the classic movies,or early content,why in God's name would you need all that extra hardware for, with all the investments in DVD's and even earlier VHS tapes,that people have? It is not all that great a thing to see a movie in 3D, especially when the basic movie itself, stinks! (Anyone see Yogi Bear in 3D yet??)

December 22 2010 at 12:43 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

by the way,,,,3D TV is a bad thing for anyone with a seizure disorder and should be avoided.

December 22 2010 at 12:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

3D in the home will never work. too limited, too annoying, too expensive...but hey, thanks electronics industry for overproducing 2D HDTV flatscreens so I can get one at a decent price finally!

December 22 2010 at 12:16 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Ask THE RICH FOLKS. Regular working people are TRYING TO MAKE ENDS MEET and don't have time to worry about getting the OVER-HYPED LATEST AND GREATEST. People DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE!!!!

December 22 2010 at 7:21 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

Probably going the same way as digital cassette decks....

December 21 2010 at 7:43 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

3D is badass I love it

December 21 2010 at 6:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

3-D could be shown on any TV that is 120Hertz refresh is the mfg's just would implement the software to show 3-D. They have decided to gouge the public with 3-D tv's. The public fortunately isn't biting......

December 21 2010 at 3:17 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Foltynski Family

I still have a tube tv, and will untill it no longer works. I cant justify throwing it out, and buying a hdtv let alone a 3D. Not on my shopping list anytime soon.

December 21 2010 at 1:52 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

What happened to 3D. The extra pairs of glasses to have a party and leave no one left out of the party @ $125+ per pair. It isn't just the TV, it's the extra thousand you need to lay out in the add-ons that has put the crimp in 3D. I was around when they tried it the first time, think they had 4 movies and then it fell off the cliff. House of Wax with Vincent Price was one of them in the original 3D debut. Didn't work then, isn't gonna work now. Cost prohibitive.

December 21 2010 at 1:27 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply