CES 2012: Google TV Gets New Life From LG, Sony, Samsung

Google is to relaunch its TV platform at CES, with the participation of LG, Sony, Samsung and others

Google TV is getting a revival at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, where LG, Sony, Vizio and Marvell will show off products running the web television platform.

Google TV is an Android-based service that lets users surf websites and TV channels and access web applications. The first version of the platform launched in October 2010 on Logitech Revue companion boxes and Sony Internet TVs and Blu-ray players.

Launch failure

However, version 1.0 failed to take off among the mass consumer base, and Logitech killed its Revue business last fall after suffering heavy financial losses trying to sell the system for $300 (£195) a pop.

Google refreshed its Google TV system last fall, replacing the Android 2.1 version with Android 3.1 Honeycomb, adding access to the Android Market, where consumers can download more than 150 applications tailored for the larger screen. The search engine provider said it has seen activation rates for Google TV more than double since that launch.

Onward and upward to CES in Las Vegas, where LG will show off a new line of TV sets running Google TV and powered by LG’s own LP chipset. Founding Google TV partner Sony will show off new Google TV systems at CES, and has pledged to take its system around the world in 2012.

TV set maker Vizio will also hold private demos showing off their new Google TV systems in Las Vegas.

These set makers will be joined by Marvell, whose ARM-based Foresight Platform, powered by its Armada 1500 HD Media system on a chip (SoC), will appear on smart TVs, set-top boxes and Blu-ray players this year.

Marvell promised to give eWEEK a demonstration of its chipsets, which afford more 3D graphics capabilities, powering Google TV at the show next week.

Finally, Google said in a blog post it is working with be-all consumer electronics device maker Samsung to facilitate the delivery of Google-TV powered Samsung devices to market later this year. That could be a very fruitful relationship, given Samsung’s existing allegiance to Android for its popular Galaxy smartphone and tablet lines.

Bigger stakes

While CES is simply a showcase and not a true indicator of market success or sales, the batch of new Google TV support bodes well for Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt’s claim that Google TV will run on most TV sets by this summer.

Schmidt may be overly bullish or hopeful, but it doesn’t change the fact that consumers are reluctant to adopt the platform to date. It’s not just the weak early implementation that cramped Google TV, but the decade-long ambivalence from consumers for Web TV products.

Google also has a lot at stake with this second-generation service, thanks to Microsoft and, possibly, Apple.

Microsoft launched a new Xbox 360 with voice-control capabilities and more entertainment options. Apple, meanwhile, is expected to launch a full television set this year, complete with Safari web browser and App Store access.