Sharp to join 3D TV battle with advanced display

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s Sharp Corp 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 hit product.

A pair of glasses used to view 3D images is seen next to a Sharp Corp 3D Touchscreen LCD panel at its unveiling ceremony in Tokyo April 2, 2010. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

The maker of Aquos brand flat TVs plans to launch 3D TVs in China, Europe and the United States by December, joining larger rivals such as Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Sony Corp.

Sharp’s new products will be the world’s first 3D TVs using four-primary-color technology, which utilizes yellow on top of the three conventional primary colors 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 color TVs from black and white.

Panasonic Corp 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 expects 3D TVs to account for 5-10 percent of its total LCD TV sales in the business year ending March 2011, Matsumoto said.

He 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 March 31, and plans to boost LCD TV output substantially this year.

Following the announcement, shares of Sharp closed down 1.3 percent at 1,188 yen, underperforming the Tokyo stock market’s electrical machinery index, which edged up 0.1 percent.

Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Chris Gallagher