If you spent the last couple of weeks poring through all of the breathless headlines coming out of the Consumer Electronics Show, you'd think that the era of 3-D TV was right around the corner. Journalists and bloggers exhaustively chronicled all the 3-D-capable sets announced by companies like Sony
But forecasts provided this week from industry researcher DisplaySearch paint a very different picture. DisplaySearch expects 218 million TV sets to be shipped in 2010, but it believes only 1 million of them will be 3-D capable. To be fair, the firm does see 3-D TV shipments reaching the 25 million range in 2014, and rising to 64 million by 2018. But between limited content availability and the high markups that currently exist for 3-D sets relative to 2-D sets with similar features, not to mention the awkwardness many people feel when putting on 3-D glasses, it's easy to understand why a slow, gradual rise for the technology seems far more likely.
Two technologies that will deliver
Looking for a TV technology that actually will make big waves in 2010? LED backlighting would be a good place to start. With its lower power consumption relative to traditional, lamp-based backlighting, and its ability to enable thinner set designs, LED technology took the industry by surprise last year. DisplaySearch found itself increasing its 2009 LED TV shipment forecast from a mere 2 million during the first half of the year to 4.5 million by September. But that pales in comparison to the 32 million LED-based sets it expects will ship in 2010, as the big-name manufacturers roll out new products with mainstream price points.
Internet-enabled TVs are another technology DisplaySearch predicts will hit the mainstream. With online video providers such as YouTube, Netflix
The chipmakers that benefit
At least a few chip companies out there stand to gain from the LED and Web TV booms. LED chip giant Cree
On the Web TV side of things, Broadcom, a leading vendor of chips that enable Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and TVs' core video processing, is bound to benefit. So should Texas Instruments
2010 promises big changes for a TV industry known for a glacial rate of progress. Just don't expect those changes to involve millions of consumers wearing funny-looking 3-D glasses in their living rooms.
Fool contributor Eric Jhonsa has no position in any of the companies mentioned. Best Buy and Wal-Mart Stores are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Amazon.com, Best Buy, and Netflix are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. The Fool owns shares of Best Buy and has a multidimensional disclosure policy.