* Sharp to start selling 3D TVs in Japan this summer
* To launch in China, U.S., Europe by year-end
* Plans to boost LCD TV output sharply in 2010/11
* Panasonic starts new LCD panel plant ahead of schedule
* Sharp shares end down 1.3 pct, Panasonic dips 0.7 pct (Adds details, start-up of Panasonic’s new LCD panel plant)
By Kiyoshi Takenaka
TOKYO, April 12 (Reuters) - Japan's Sharp Corp 6753.T said it would begin selling 3D-capable LCD TVs in Japan this summer, the latest consumer electronics maker to enter the market for what is expected to be the industry's next growth driver.
Sharp’s new products will be the world’s first 3D TVs using four-primary-colour technology, which utilises yellow on top of the three conventional primary colours of red, green and blue, enabling the TV sets to offer brighter, more vivid images.
“We are now one step closer to such things as 3D displays with the world’s best quality or the ultimate display,” Sharp Executive Vice President Masafumi Matsumoto told a news conference on Monday.
Consumer electronics makers are scrambling to launch 3D TVs this year, betting the technology will be as big a boost for the industry as the transition to colour TVs from black and white.
Panasonic Corp 6752.T and Samsung have already released 3D models, while Sony plans to start offering 3D TVs in June.
Electronics makers have high hopes that growing interest in 3D movies sparked by the sci-fi blockbuster “Avatar” will drive 3D TV sales.
Demand for 3D TVs will likely grow more than 10-fold to 27 million units in 2013 from an estimated 2.5 million units this year, according to research firm DisplaySearch.
Sharp said high response speeds of its 3D TV use LCD panels help eliminate double-contour ghost images known as “crosstalk”, which often occur with 3D images.
“Crosstalk ruins 3D pictures. We have managed to lower this phenomenon to extremely low levels,” Matsumoto said.
Sharp plans to start making advanced 3D displays for cellphones and other mobile devices this year that do not require special glasses, betting that demand for 3D images will grow beyond movie theatres and living rooms to portable machines.
Viewers, however, need to wear special glasses to watch Sharp’s new 3D LCD TVs.
Sharp expects 3D TVs to account for 5-10 percent of its total LCD TV sales in the business year ending in March 2011, he said.
Matsumoto did not disclose how many LCD TVs Sharp aims to sell this financial year, but he said the company had achieved its LCD TV sales target of 10 million units for the year that ended on March 31, and plans to boost LCD TV output substantially this year.
Sharp is considering bringing its flagship LCD panel plant in western Japan to full capacity earlier than originally planned October, Matsumoto said.
Separately, rival Panasonic announced on Monday that it has started operating a new LCD plant in Japan three months ahead of schedule to capitalise on a recovery in the global flat TV market.
The western Japan factory has an initial a monthly output capacity equivalent of 405,000 32-inch displays, which will be doubled by March next year.
Following the announcements, shares of Sharp closed down 1.3 percent at 1,188 yen and Panasonic ended down 0.7 percent at 1,413 yen, underperforming the Tokyo stock market's electrical machinery index .IELEC.T, which edged up 0.1 percent. (Additional reporting by Nobuhiro Kubo and Taiga Uranaka; Editing by Michael Watson)