LG Elec to launch Google TV in U.S. in late May -exec

SEOUL Sun May 6, 2012 11:10pm EDT

SEOUL May 7 (Reuters) - LG Electronics Inc, the world's No.2 TV maker, plans to launch Internet-enabled TV based on Google's platform in the United States in the week of May 21, as the South Korean firm seeks to gain a larger share of the emerging Internet TV market, a senior LG executive said on Monday.

The second version of Internet TV by Google, which hopes to replicate the success of its Android mobile software in the TV market, comes after its previous model, unveiled in 2010, failed to catch on with consumers.

Google's attempt to capture the living room audience has seen limited success so far due to a lack of web content and support from hardware manufacturers.

"Production of Google TV 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," Ro Seogho, executive vice president of LG's TV business unit, told reporters.

Ro said LG will decide whether to expand the offering to Europe and Asia after reviewing sales performance in the U.S. market.

TV manufacturers from LG to its bigger rival Samsung Electronics Co have their own Internet-enabling TV platforms and are aggressively pushing their own technologies, along with Google TV, to gain the initiative in the emerging TV market and prop up margins with high-end products amid growing competition from low-cost producers.

LG plans to fit around 60 percent of its TVs with its own NetCast platform installed, to allow viewers access to the Internet, social networking and online games as well as LG's own TV applications.

LG saw its TV division profit margin rising sharply to above 4 percent in the first quarter, helped by strong sales of high-end models such as 3D TVs and Internet-enabled sets.

Google TV allows consumers to access Google services such as search and YouTube videos on their television screens.

Google has long held ambitions in the television arena, hoping to extend its online advertising business to the big screens that still command the lion's share of global advertising budgets, and to make the best use of its ownership of YouTube, the world's most popular online video site.

But Logitech International, one of Google's initial partners that developed a set-top box offering the service, said late last year it had lost tens of millions of dollars building set-top boxes for Google devices due to weak sales.

Research firm IHS iSuppli estimates the global Internet-enabled TV market will grow nearly 60 percent this year to 95 million sets. That far outpaces the TV market overall, which is expected to expand by just 2 percent this year.

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