Japan, China, lead world in smart-TV shipments

Smart TVs accounted for about 20 percent of all televisions shipped internationally in the first quarter of 2012, according to research published by NPD DisplaySearch.

Not surprisingly, Japan led the parade with 36 percent of all smart TVs. Somewhat more surprisingly, though, the country's shipments were below the 1 million unit mark. China topped the list of countries receiving shipments with 3.2 million (30 percent of sets), followed by Western Europe (2.6 million/29 percent). North American shipments accounted for about 18 percent of all sets, the research firm said.

Connected TVs--those with Internet capabilities--posted slightly higher shipment numbers. About 27 percent of sets whipped worldwide could connect to the Internet. Japan led that parade with 46 percent followed by Western Europe (36 percent) and China (32 percent).

Penetration by brand name was also interesting. LG and Samsung, two big promoters, said that smart TVs accounted for 12 percent and 26 percent, respectively, of their total first quarter shipments while smart TVs made up 51 percent of the TVs Sony shipped. Other brand names detailed in the DisplaySearch statistics included Philips (36 percent), Sharp (28 percent) and Panasonic (21 percent).

The connected TV market is "largely driven by content," Paul Gray, director of TV Electronics Research for NPD DisplaySearch, said in a statement.

While it makes sense that people will connect to the Internet to watch "compelling things," as Gray put it, it's somewhat surprising to learn that "Chinese consumers have found plenty to watch on the Internet, so Internet connectivity follows."

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