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Google, partners unveil plan for smart TVs

SAN FRANCISCO — Google believes it has come up with the technology to unite Web surfing with channel surfing on televisions.

To reach the long-elusive goal of turning TV sets into Internet gateways, Google has partnered with Sony, Intel and Logitech International. They unveiled their plan for a "smart" TV on Thursday, and Intel chief executive Paul Otellini predicted it will be "the biggest improvement to television since color."

"Our goal is to make the same impact on television as the smart phone has had on the mobile phone market," said Rishi Chandra, the Google product manager who is overseeing the smart TV project.

The TVs are expected to go on sale this fall in U.S. Best Buy stores, with prices to be announced later in the year. Sales will expand to other countries next year.

Other companies have tried to promote Internet-connected TVs with little success.

Many households already have been connecting their TVs to the Internet, mostly to watch video through set-top boxes, video game consoles and Blu-ray players. Web-connected TVs are expected to account for about 19 percent of the U.S. sales of flat-panel models this year, with the share projected to rise to 46 percent in 2013, according to ABI Research.

Google, which made the bulk of its nearly $24 billion in revenue last year from Internet ads displayed on computer screens, wants to turn televisions into giant monitors for Web surfing so it can make even more money. Google estimates that television accounts for $70 billion in annual advertising in the U.S. alone.

Using Google's new technology, a telecast of a sporting event can be shrunk into a small "picture-in-picture" box so a viewer can look at statistics or other material about the game on TV.

Viewers will also be able to search by speaking into a remote that runs on Google's Android operating system.

Sony will make the TVs, giving it a new product that could stand out from other flat-panel sets on the market. It will use microprocessors from Intel, which is hoping to reduce its dependence on personal computers. Google will provide the software, including Android and the company's Chrome Web browser. Logitech will supply a special remote control and wireless keyboard.

Google, partners unveil plan for smart TVs 05/20/10 [Last modified: Thursday, May 20, 2010 8:22pm]

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