LG May Add Google TV To HDTV Sets

Jonathan Sutton

As more and more people gain access to fast internet speeds due to a gradual reduction in broadband prices over the years, it’s no wonder that more and more flat-screen HDTVs are being equipped with internet connectivity by TV makers who do not want to be left behind in this revolution. In fact, market research and consulting firm iSuppli Corporation forecast that global sales of Internet-Enabled TVs or IETVs – defined as television sets which can connect to the web either wirelessly or with wires, and have sufficient processing power to run thin-client internet widgets like Yahoo Connected TV – will rise sixfold from 14.7 million units in 2009 to 87.6 million units in 2013.

LG Electronics, the second-largest manufacturer of TV sets in the world behind Samsung, has clearly taken on board the importance of web connectivity in its strategic efforts to maintain or even increase its market share in the highly competitive flat panel industry. Earlier this year, LG launched and implemented its own internet-accessing software called “Netcast” on some of the company’s new 2010 range of flat-screen HDTVs.

These LG Internet-Enabled TVs seem to be well-received, having already posted an impressive sales figure of 470,000 units to date since release earlier this year to worldwide markets including Europe and North American. But at the moment LG is pondering whether to add the recently announced Google TV service – based on the Android operating system – on its newest HDTV sets.

Google TV is a software platform developed by Google in collaboration with partners like Sony and Logitech, which intends to make browsing digital online content on HDTVs as painless as surfing TV channels. At its core is a Google search box that enables users to find TV programmes and websites on their television sets without needing to leave their sofas.

Although at present only Sony has signed a deal to incorporate Google TV on its Bravia HDTV sets, Google is keen to develop partnerships with other TV makers. So far Samsung and LG have expressed their interests in joining forces with Google to boost their web TV prowess, but the latter is worried that Google may become the dominant player in the TV application area (just like it already is in the lucrative internet search market).

Simon Kang, president and CEO of LG’s Home Entertainment division, told Dow Jones Newswires in an interview, “The reason we are deliberating is because Google may one day dominate the software space and we don’t want to end up as just a hardware provider.” Which is why LG is also planning to launch a HDTV-based application store of its own (in a similar vein to Samsung Apps) early next year.