Will Google and LG Defeat Apple TV?

While speculation continues about when Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) will launch its much anticipated television and what shape the device will take, competing software maker Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has made the first move by jumping into the arena. Google will team up with LG to launch an Internet-enabled TV as early as the week of May 21.

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“Production of Google TVs will start from May 17 from our factory in Mexico and U.S. consumers will be able to buy the product from the week of May 21,” said Ro Seogho, executive vice president of LG’s TV business unit.

While Apple TV is expected to be a full-fledged television product, Google TV will let viewers access its own services such as searches and YouTube videos on their television screens. LG did not provide any details about the device itself or discuss shipment targets, but Ro said the U.S. market will serve as a test before the company decides whether to take the product to Europe and Asia.

Google had earlier tried to launch an Internet television in 2010, but discontinued it after failing to attract consumer interest. Logitech International (NASDAQ:LOGI), one of Google’s partner equipment manufacturers then, said it lost millions of dollars on the venture. However, with its online advertising prowess and ownership of YouTube, Google has very real ambitions in the arena.

It updated its software last year and will hope to do better with LG, which already has its own Internet-enabled TV platform. The company already plans to fit around 60 percent of its television sets with the in-house NetCast platform that lets users access the Internet, social networking websites, and online games.

The global Internet TV market is expected to grow nearly 60 percent this year to 95 million units, according to research firm IHS iSuppli, while the overall TV market is only expected to expand by just 2 percent.

LG has had strong sales of high-end television models as well as Internet-enabled sets, with the company’s TV division seeing profit margin above 4 percent in the first quarter of the year. However, the overall television market has struggled, with Sony’s (NYSE:SNE) television business losing around $10 billion over the past ten years as it builds 20 million sets a year.

Google TV is also said to be extending partnerships beyond LG to Sony and Vizio as well.

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