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LG’s Google TV sets global war over next-generation smart TV

LG Electronics is set to launch the world’s first Google TV version 2.0 in the United States this weekend amid rising expectations about Apple’s smart TV debut.

According to a report by Shinhan Investment Corp., LG will set the stage for its attempt to carve out a bigger share in the smart TV market with Google TV, which allows users to enjoy broadcasting, Internet, applications and video with ease.

“Google TV operates on the Google operating system, which enables Internet browsing, social networking, and the Android market through the Google Chrome browser,” the brokerage said.

The new 3D LED TV model will come in two sizes ― 47-inch and 55-inch ― and prices on Amazon are set at $1,600 and $2,100, respectively.

LG’s push for high-powered TV sets in the world’s biggest electronics market comes ahead of Apple’s much-speculated-on move to introduce its own TV, possibly near the end of this year or early next year.

Soh Hyun-cheol, analyst at Shinhan, said Apple’s smart TV will “spur cooperation within the non-Apple camp such as strategic alliances among Google, Samsung, LG and smart TV content providers.”

Soh said that just as Apple’s iPhone set off a big bang in the mobile phone market worldwide, Apple’s foray into the TV market will likely have a major impact.

For LG, Google TV is a showcase of what it can achieve before a full-fledged battle with Apple gets started. LG is keen to promote its own smart TV platform called “Netcast” while continuing to innovate the user interface and bring in more sophisticated controls based on motion and voice sensors.

LG’s Google TV provides a peek into the current level of technologies in terms of smart functionalities, but analysts are expecting something more revolutionary in the near future, particularly concerning artificial intelligence and user interface as Apple’s debut in the TV market signals another paradigm shift.

“Subsidies for Apple TV will be offered by telecom operators and cable providers, which should shorten the TV replacement cycle by about two years from the previous eight to 10 years,” Soh said.

To stay ahead in the smart TV battle, Soh said, both the Apple and non-Apple camp should produce a glass-free 3D TV, which will require OLED panels rather than LCD panels. Against this backdrop, Samsung Display and LG Display are pouring more investment into OLED TV panel development, the brokerage said.

By Yang Sung-jin (