JAPAN/USA: Panasonic partners with retail giant Best Buy for US 3D rollout


300 special 3D sections featuring Panasonic products will be created in Best Buy stores in New York and other major cities, allowing shoppers to try out 3D viewing. It's expected that number will rise to around 1000 by the end of the year.

Panasonic's 3D TVs are expected to launch in the States this week, with a launch even said to be planned for this Wednesday in Best Buy's Magnolia high-end store in the centre of New York.

That's a month ahead of the TVs' planned debut in Japan, showing just how important the North American market is in the company's 3D strategy. The company expects half its planned million 3D TV sales in the next 12 months will be in the USA.

Its first US 3D sets are expected to be priced at around 30% less than the forthcoming Japanese models, mainly by stripping out features such as internet access, making a 50in model around $2500.

The intention is that a package of 3D TV, Blu-ray player and glasses should sell for about $3000, thus tempting consumers to make the leap to 3D. It's also expected that a3d Blu-ray sampler disc will be given away with Panasonic purchases.

Meanwhile Samsung's 3D TVs will hit Best Buy stores in a couple of weeks, with reports suggesting they will come complete with a 3D Blu-ray copy of Monsters vs Aliens. If that's correct, it'll make the title the first new-generation 3D title to be released.

Best Buy has stores in the USA, Canada, China, Mexico and Puerto Rico, and plans to start opening outlets in Europe this year in partnership with Carphone Warehouse. It also owns online music service Napster.

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