Google Banking on Alliance with Samsung, LG, Sony for Smart TV

Google has joined hands with the world’s three top TV makers to conquer a new market after it established a dominant presence in smartphones with its Android operating system. In partnership with Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics and Sony, Google will unveil a “smart” TV at the Consumer Electronics Show that opens in Las Vegas on Tuesday. The Google TV, which enables viewers to connect to the Internet and enjoy a range of services, is due to hit the market in the first half of this year.

â—† Android OS

The Internet search giant plans to adopt the same strategy for its new business venture as proved so successful on smart mobile gadgets, with TV makers to assemble the sets based on the Android software.

According to market researcher Gartner, Android OS ranked first with a 52.5 percent share in the smartphone market in the third quarter of last year. In contrast, Apple’s iOS, exclusively used by the iPhone, took up a mere 15 percent.

Google first tried its hand at the TV market in October 2010 when it forged a partnership with Sony and Logitech. But the attempt failed as the business alliance did not include leaders of the TV market and major U.S. TV stations such as ABC, CBS and NBC, leading to a lack of attention-grabbing content.

â—† Partnerships

But it is a different story for the latest Google TV. In addition to Samsung, LG and Sony, whose combined share of the global TV market adds up to 40 percent, Google is partnering with Vizio, the No. 2 TV vendor in the U.S. It is also joining hands with parts makers such as Marvell and Mediatech, which allows small and medium-sized TV makers to manufacture the Google TV if they buy components from Google’s partners.

Over 150 TV applications are already available, and thousands of Android smartphone applications can be used as well, Google said.

But some doubt whether Google will be able to reprise its success in this field as TV makers already have their own operating systems for smart TVs. LG Electronics said, “We will continue to release models using our own OS, Netcast.”

Samsung also said that its cooperation with Google is a strategy aimed at adding diversity to its product line, implying that the partnership can be terminated should it prove unprofitable.

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