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Sony bets big on 3-D television

Sony estimates that 3-D television sets will make up between 30 percent and 50 percent of all sets it sells in the financial year that begins in April 2012.

The 3-D-compatible sets will include a small piece of additional hardware that enables them to show 3-D content but they’ll also work as conventional television sets, said Hiroshi Yoshioka, executive deputy president of Sony and head of the unit that includes its TV business.

However, the largest expense for 3-D viewing will be the glasses that are required to produce the illusion of a three-dimensional image. Those could cost up to $200 and won’t necessarily be bundled with a television. By selling the glasses separately, Sony will be able to keep its 3-D-compatible sets competitive with other sets while only requiring a higher outlay from customers who want to experience 3-D content.

Yoshioka, speaking in an interview, said Sony has yet to determine the premium for 3-D-compatible sets and whether it will bundle the glasses or sell them separately. Sony first announced its 3-D ambitions in early September when Howard Stringer, the company’s president and CEO, revealed Sony is working to add 3-D capability to Bravia TV sets, Blu-ray disc players and to the Playstation 3 for gaming.

The company plans to include additional 3-D capability in the production of movies and sports. Sony Pictures is already producing 3-D movies. Last week, in a meeting with the news media, Stringer told of plans for an all-in-one network for Sony’s films, music, games and other content for its electronic hardware products.

Stringer said the major plan is to finally combine Sony’s software content with its line of media hardware. “Ten years ago, different parts of Sony didn’t speak to each other,” Stringer said. “Now, there are no silos.” Presumably, 3-D content will be provided through the new online service.