SEOUL (Reuters) - The global 3D television market will grow more than 5-fold to account for 11 percent of flat-screen TV sales this year, as prices fall sharply and manufacturers add the function as an add-on feature, research firm IHS iSuppli predicted on Friday.
It projected 3D TV shipments would rise to 23.4 million units this year from last year's 4.2 million units, gaining further to 159 million units in 2015. By that time, iSuppli said, 3D TVs would account for more than half of global flat-panel shipments.
TV manufacturers, led by South Korea's Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics Inc and Japan's Sony Corp are hoping high-end models such as 3D help them arrest razor-thin margins amid intensifying competition with low-cost producers in the commoditized flat-screen TV market.
Another research firm, DisplaySearch, also forecast last week that 3D TVs will rise to more than 50 percent of revenues and hit the 100-million unit sales mark by 2014.
By technology, active shutter-glass (SG) type sets, the current industry standard, will gradually give way to passive film patterned retarder (FPR) types and fall below 50 percent of the overall 3D market by 2015, iSuppli said.
The shift can be a big threat to top TV maker Samsung, which is aggressively pushing for SG technology and has been embroiled in a growing war of words this year with hometown rival LG Electronics and its panel supplier LG Display.
LG Group is making a big bet on FPR technology to stake out a bigger claim in the global 3D market, currently dominated by SG-type sets made by first such as Samsung and Sony.
LG contends that FPR addresses consumer concerns over blurry and flickering images, with glasses two to three times lighter than the previous bulky battery-charged eyewear that was required for 3D viewing.
The 3D market forecast by iSuppli is more bullish than Samsung's own forecast of 17 million units.