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We're All Connected; Smart TV Market Share Surges in 2012

By Rachel Cericola

TV viewers are still seeking out the biggest bang for that big screen. When it comes to calling up Netflix selections, Amazon Instant Video, Facebook, gaming and other web-based entertainment services, more consumers are turning to (and on) the TV. In other words, networked HDTVs are all the rage this year.

A new report by NPD DisplaySearch says that connected TVs are certainly on the rise. In fact, over one-quarter (27 percent) of the TVs shipped in the first quarter of 2012 offered some type web connectivity. Almost 20 percent of all TVs shipped worldwide were actually Smart TVs, with services built right into the set.

Those are worldwide numbers, but when you break it down by region, it starts to get very interesting. For instance, 46 percent of the sets in Japan had networking capability, with 36 percent for Western Europe. China followed right behind that, with 32 percent of TVs shipped having some type of web-based features.

Figure 1: Smart TV Penetration, Q1’12 Shipments [Source: NPD DisplaySearch Quarterly Smart TV Shipment and Forecast Report]

China, however, had the largest shipments, with almost 3 million Smart TVs shipped. Western Europe was second with 2.1 million, with North America coming in third with almost 1.4 million units shipped.

In NPD DisplaySearch's report, the definition of a smart TV is a set that can access a branded portal and service, not just available platforms such as YouTube or broadcaster services. From there, the research firm breaks it down into sub-categories. Those include: "set maker controlled" sets, which can have unique services from a portal; and "consumer controlled" sets, with some type of web browser.

"Connected TV is largely driven by content," said Paul Gray, director of TV electronics research for NPD DisplaySearch. "Where there are compelling things to watch, the Internet becomes a major source of entertainment. We are now seeing a second stage of evolution as Internet video relocates from a PC screen onto the TV screen. In particular, Chinese consumers have found plenty to watch on the Internet, so Internet connectivity follows."

Brands, on the other hand, were a bit of a mix (see Figure 2 below). NPD DisplaySearch says that this reflects regional positioning. For instance, Chinese TV brands score well due to high shipments in their home market.

The NPD DisplaySearch Quarterly Smart TV Shipment and Forecast Report tracks connected and smart TV shipments by brand, region, display technology and screen size.

Figure 2: Smart TV Penetration, Q1'12 Shipments by Brand

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