Thursday, March 18, 2010

Google Pushes TV Initiative


Sony, Intel and Logitech Join Effort to Help Users Navigate Web-Based TV Offerings

Google Inc. has lined up some big partners—including Intel Corp. and Sony Corp.—in the Internet giant's recent quest to move its technology into the living room, people familiar with the situation say.

The joint effort, which is in its preliminary stages, includes software to help users navigate among Web-based offerings on television sets and serve as a platform for other developers to target in creating new programs, these people say. The technology could be included with future TVs, Blu-ray players or set-top boxes, they added.

Logitech International SA, a well-known maker of personal-computer accessories, is also playing a significant role, these people said.

Google is the latest among many entrants in a long-term race to make TVs more interactive and provide users with additional content from the Internet. The dominant Web-search company, which has already moved successfully into software for cellphones, stands to gain additional revenue if it can move its software and services into TVs.

The Wall Street Journal this month reported that Google is testing a new TV-search service withDish Network Corp. that is designed to allow users to find shows on the satellite-TV service as well as video from Web sites such as Google's YouTube. The March 8 article noted that Google has been talking to partners about adapting Android—the operating system it developed for cellphones—for TVs and set-top boxes.

In addition, the company has begun to target the TV market with a nascent ad-brokering business called Google TV, the article said. Some participants in the effort are using that term to refer to the software platform for televisions, though it doesn't appear that the technology has been formally named.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Sony, Intel and Logitech are collaborating with Google on the TV platform.

Google's partners have their own reasons for collaborating. Sony, which faces tough competition in the TV market, could use some help in differentiating its hardware. The Japanese electronics company has already collaborated with Google in the market for electronic devices for reading books.

"This is an extension of their relationship," said Rick Doherty, an analyst at market-research firm Envisioneering. "Sony is weak in the software area."

Sony is working with Google on a television that would run the Android operating system, people familiar with the matter said.

Intel, known for chips in computers, has been trying for years to get its technology into the living room. It has been pinning its hopes lately on versions of Atom, an inexpensive chip that is used in most low-end laptops called netbooks.

The chip maker has been working with software partners that include Google rival Yahoo Inc., which developed a format for Web-based TV software called widgets. More recently, however, some makers of consumer-electronics devices have tried to emulate Apple Inc.'s approach with its app store, hoping to spur similar rapid development of simple programs for TVs.

A spokesman for Google declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Sony and a spokeswoman for Logitech.

A spokeswoman for Intel declined to comment on any relationship with Google, but she noted that consumer electronics is seen as a "growth strategy" for Intel.

—Yukari Iwatani Kane and Jessica E. Vascellaro contributed to this article.

Write to Don Clark at and Ben Worthen at

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