World+Dog will buy 4.2m 3D TVs this year as early adopters pay through the nose for the latest telly technology: sets will typically set them back $1768 (£1184), US-based market watcher iSuppli has calculated.
The researchers reckons that $600-700 premium over regular LED-backlit LCD TVs will keep 3D out of the mainstream for the next few years. The limited availability of 3D content to watch, and uncertainties over the price and - just as important - the compatibility of the 3D glasses needed to view the material, will act as a barrier too.
iSuppli's near-term forecast is more bullish than the one made by rival market watcher DisplaySearch earlier this year. DS predicted that only 1.2m 3D TVs will ship this year, rising to 15.6m in 2013 and then to 64m in 2018.
iSuppli, on the other hand, reckons shipments will reach 78m by 2015 after passing the 45m mark in 2013. That's a compound annual growth rate of 80 per cent.
The driver will be a sharp fall in average selling prices, iSuppli said. From that average figure of $1768 today, the price will pass below the $1000 (£670) in 2014 and reach $825 (£553) in 2015.
That reduction, iSuppli said, will "make 3D TVs attractive to a worldwide audience", with mainstream consumers starting to buy into the technology around 2012 when the ASP will be around $1400 (£938) mark.
But let's not forget the vast number of 2D TVs that will ship in the coming years. Last year, DisplaySearch forecast 2010 LCD TV shipments will total 171m units. That's excluding plasma, OLED and CRT, but these technologies don't add much to the total.
Even assuming iSuppli's 3D TV shipments figure is more accurate than the one from DisplaySearch, that still means 3D models will account for just under 2.5 per cent of total telly shipments. ®