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Panasonic Begins 3D U.S. Sales at New York Best Buy

March 10, 2010 By Nancy Klosek
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Panasonic Consumer Electronics Co. launched its 3D marketing push March 10 in New York. The action began in the Magnolia Home Theater section of New York City’s 24-hour Best Buy Union Square store, with its first U.S. sale of a 50-inch 3D plasma HDTV and a 3D Blu-ray player to a Manhattan couple.

With the transaction, Panasonic entered into what promises to be a heated multi-supplier race to build the 3D consumer TV market this spring and then dominate it in later months.

The couple, Ashley and Brad Katsuyama, bought Panasonic’s VIERA TC-P50VT20 50-inch Full HD 3D plasma set ($2,499.95) – a Best Buy-exclusive model equivalent to Panasonic’s regular-line VT25 series model of the same size that comes with a pair of Panasonic 3D glasses – and the Panasonic DMP-BDT300 3D Blu-ray player ($399.95), which is shipping with a 3D content sampler disc in the box.  Additional Panasonic 3D glasses will be available for $149.

The model is the first of five Full HD 3D TVs due from Panasonic in the coming months, according to Shiro Kitajima, president of Panasonic Consumer Electronics Co., who, along with Best Buy president, Americas Mike Vitelli, was on hand for the retail launch. Other screen sizes will be 54, 58 and 65 inches.

Vitelli said that 400 of Best Buy’s 1,100 retail outlets that have Magnolia sections are slated to receive 3D TVs and Blu-ray players next, for sale beginning March 21.

The stores will use a merchandising kit to showcase Panasonic’s 3D offerings that includes a freestanding pedestal to hold the 3D glasses, said Gene Kelsey, Panasonic director of retail sales support.

“‘Avatar’ changed the perception of what 3D is,” Vitelli said. “Consumers are now able to immerse themselves in the experience. This is the next evolution in TV, and there are opportunities here for the creative community, for sports fans to not only be at but also ‘in’ the game, and for gamers and their creative community. And it’s Best Buy’s job to connect the product, the content and the services and bring the experience of the connected world to customers – something our 155,000 sales associates and Geek Squad do every day.”

Panasonic senior vice president of marketing Bob Perry said that the market transition to 3D from 2D will happen much more rapidly than the move from analog to HDTV – because the “ecosystem” is in place. “It took 12 years from, ‘Is HDTV real?’ to the point where every TV in Best Buy is HD. It will come faster for 3D because all the stars are in alignment” – from the standards creation, to camera creation, to the software authoring and extending to the company’s partnerships with broadcasters and retailers, he said.  He further offered Panasonic’s market projection for overall 2010 3DTV sales, stating, “We see this year’s 3D business as two million units.”

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