Japan's Sharp Corp said it would begin selling 3D TVs this summer, the latest consumer electronics maker to enter the market for what is expected to be the industry's next hit product.

Sharp, the world's fourth-largest LCD TV maker behind Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Sony Corp and LG Electronics Inc, said it would launch 3D TVs this summer in Japan.

It said it plans to begin selling them in China, the United States and Europe by the end of this year.

Consumer electronics makers are scrambling to launch 3D TVs this year, betting the technology will be as big a boost for the industry as the transition to color TVs from black and white.

Panasonic Corp and Samsung Electronics have already released 3D models, while Sony plans to start offering 3D TVs in June.

Demand for 3D TVs will likely grow more than tenfold to 27 million units in 2013 from an estimated 2.5 million units this year, according to research firm DisplaySearch.

Shares of Sharp fell 0.4 percent to 1,198 yen, while the benchmark Nikkei <.N225< average gained 0.8 percent.

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Chris Gallagher)