The Consumer Electronics Association (News - Alert) (CEA) is the trade association that represents the $206 billion U.S. consumer electronics industry. Its key tasks include legislative advocacy, market research, standards development and the fostering of business and strategic relationships. CEA also owns and produces the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES (News - Alert)), the 2013 North American version of which is being held in Las Vegas all of next week. CEA delivers a good deal of research and consumer insights on an ongoing basis, and a recent study with a focus on HDTV is well worth elaborating on.
We're particularly interested in the study because we are now entering a period when the big mobile players are about to engage in entirely new battles that won't be fought on the mobile device side, but rather on the TV end of things - especially Samsung and Apple. More recently Intel has started to garner interest for its own TV-based plans, though Intel (News - Alert) looks to be focused on the set top box rather than actual TVs.
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This new CEA report provides some solid hints on what consumers are likely to want in a next generation TV. The study, dubbed "Beyond 2D Viewing: Understanding the Demand for Advanced Television Features," takes a look at currently available built-in television features, such as 3D and Internet-connected applications, and examines whether or not such features meet the expectations and needs of today's mobile-savvy consumers.
One thing is definitely clear - consumers of all stripes do in fact use the built-in features on their HDTV at a high rate, and an increasing number of them are now gaining access to Web-enabled content directly through the TVs. Relevant statistics include the following:
- More than one in five U.S. adults, over 20 percent, now owns a smart app-enabled HDTV.
- 90 percent use the apps available on their displays in some capacity.
- More than four in 10 HDTV owners now connect their primary displays to the Internet.
- 76 percent connect at least one external device with smart app capabilities (such as a Blu-ray player) to their primary displays.
- Half of all HDTV owners connect a video game console or a DVD/Blu-ray player to their primary displays.
- 61 percent of smart app users are likely to stream video content from the Internet .
- 56 percent browse the Internet.
- 54 percent view pictures using smart apps on their televisions.
Approximately one in three consumers plans to purchase a new HDTV within the next 12 months. When these consumers go to make the purchase, there is now complete expectation that these new TVs to come with built-in Wi-Fi and Internet browsing capability. In fact, other than the desire for high-quality audio and video (which goes without saying) the most important purchase factors for HDTV are Wi-Fi and Internet capability.
Another way many consumers are experiencing Web-enabled content for HDTV is through mobile devices. Social networking is now the most common activity on that second screen. Among HDTV owners who also own a tablet 67 percent use their tablets for social networking while watching TV. Among HDTV owners who also own a smartphone, 58 percent access a social network on that smartphone while watching TV.
Direct integration of social networking capabilities with the TV's themselves is probably a next feature for manufacturers to build into their TVs. “We are now living in an app-dominated world, whether those apps run on a smartphone, tablet or television,” says Kevin Tillmann, senior research analyst at CEA. “Consumers want access to their apps at all times and they will use whatever device, TVs included, that offer the best and most convenient user experience.”
People Really Like 3D
As 3D becomes a more common feature on HDTVs sold in the U.S., consumers have not only become more aware of the technology, but, according to the CEA study, consumers are now truly beginning to embrace it:
- Today, 21 percent of U.S. homes own at least one 3D-enabled television. CEA’s most recent U.S. Consumer Electronics Sales and Forecast shows that unit sales of 3D televisions will reach an estimated 5.6 million in 2012, representing 18 percent of total TV sales, up from eight percent of total TV sales in 2011.
- 42 percent of 3D-capable HDTV owners watch five or more hours of 3D content a week. By comparison, 75 percent of 3DTV owners watch more than five hours of 2D content on their 3DTV a week. Nine percent report watching more than 15 hours of 3D content a week.
- Movies are the most common content source for viewing 3D, with 48 percent of 3DTV owners having watched a 3D Blu-ray disc.
- 42 percent watch live programming as a regular 3D source.
- Video games provide 3D content for 30 percent of 3D viewers.
Tillmann continues, “Consumer interest in 3DTVs and 3D content continues to grow as ownership rates increase. Even more important, we've found that overall 68 percent of 3DTV owners rate the visual experience of 3D programming as excellent or good. It's clear that 3D isn't a kludge - that it really delivers on the promise and meets consumer expectations. Continuing to expand and innovate with 3D content will be extremely important for future usage and will continue to drive sales.”
Samsung (News - Alert), of course, already knows and understands 3D HDTV. In our opinion, the company currently offers the best active 3D technology in the market, a good amount of it at very reasonable cost. We are definitely looking forward to what Samsung will unveil next week at CES on the TV front - it should prove exciting, and will likely raise the bar and the challenge for Apple (News - Alert).
As Apple ponders what it is going to deliver from its end, it's clear to us from this CES report that the company needs to deliver a 3D experience - 2D simply won't cut it, and if Apple initially chooses to go the 2D route it will likely prove to be a mistake to have done so. It will be interesting to see if Samsung's competitors such as Sharp can deliver the 3D displays Apple is going to need to compete head on with Samsung on the TV front.
The Beyond 2D Viewing: Understanding the Demand for Advanced Television Features study was designed and formulated by CEA and conducted in September 2012. The study is available free to CEA members. Non-members can buy the complete report for $999.
Edited by Brooke Neuman