Samsung TV chief
By Kim Yoo-chul
Samsung Electronics is generating massive buzz for its upcoming Internet television based on Google’s smart TV platform. And just as in smartphones, the Korean technology giant finds Apple as its main rival.
Samsung, the world’s largest flat screen television maker and runner-up handset vendor, is one of the many television manufacturers that are developing products that run on the Google TV platform.
However, technology enthusiasts will have to wait a little longer than they anticipated for a glimpse at the new television as Samsung says it doesn’t plan to unveil it at the next Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas as previously rumored.
``We are in our final stages of talks with Google over releasing our version of a Google TV. The product will be revealed next year for sure but not at the CES in January, although we would probably be able to comment on the release date in Las Vegas,’’ said Yoon Boo-keun, chief of Samsung’s television business.
Yoon, a right-hand man of Samsung CEO Choi Gee-sung, stressed that the company’s new television will be significantly different from earlier Google TV devices released by rivals like Sony and Logitech.
With the absence of the Google TV, Samsung’s standout product at the next CES will likely be its new 55-inch organic light emitting diode (OLED) television, which the company has yet to reveal.
Choi, Yoon and Shin Jong-kyun, head of the company’s handset division, met with Google Chairman Eric Schmidt in Seoul earlier this month to discuss a wide range of business projects, and according to Samsung sources. Developing a Web-connected television with Google TV was one of the main topics.
There is pressure on Samsung and Google to create something better after the earlier Google TV attempts by Sony, Logitech and Intel faltered amid mixed reviews.
Samsung and Google needed to invest a Herculean effort to compete with Apple’s dominance in smartphones and other mobile Internet devices, and are desperate to avoid such a struggle in the nascent market for Web-connected televisions.
Samsung and LG Electronics, which trails its domestic rival as the world’s No. 2 television maker, had been reluctant to provide full backing to Google’s smart-television aspirations due to questions over marketability and future prospects.
It remains to be seen whether they will be more enthusiastic about the future, when both companies intend to create their own software and content platforms for smart televisions.
Samsung is heavily investing to develop its own platform to be used in its Internet televisions. LG has already released a set that runs on its own NetCast software and is looking to expand partnerships with content developers.
Samsung appears to be more aggressive than LG in carving a position in the Google TV market, which could prove its best shot at countering the massive buzz generated by Apple’s smart-television effort, Apple TV.
Apple is expected to launch the first version of its Internet television sometime late next year, while Microsoft is also dabbling with the possibilities of entering the market by leveraging its widely used Windows computer operating systems and X-Box video-game consoles.
``We know of the predictions that Samsung’s long-term position in the television business will weaken if it heavily supports Google TV, but we don’t see it that way,’’ said a Samsung executive, who didn’t want to be named.
``Google and Apple are likely to headline the fight in smart televisions as they did in smartphones. That makes Samsung and LG important partners for Google.’’