LG expanding Google TV presence into more countries, executive says

Consumer electronics giant LG Electronics is generating such good business for TV sets with built-in Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) software that it now plans to expand that feature into more sets and more countries, a company executive said at the Digital Cable TV tradeshow in Jeju, Korea.

LG 4K television

LG promotion for its 4K television. (Source: LG)

"LG is currently selling Google TVs in the United States. As the collaboration has been effective to increase our brand awareness and has been yielding good returns, LG plans to roll out more models in more countries," the executive, who asked not to be named, told the Korea Times.

The exec added that LG is selling about 10,000 Google TVs a month in the United States. LG is currently the only company making TVs with Google software. It will be unveiling those sets in Korea and China starting later this year.

In addition to Google TVs, the tradeshow also served as a point of notice that TV makers are ready to push ultra high-definition (UHD) TV sets--also known as 4K--into their lineup and expect broadcasters and other content providers to join the movement.

"We expect more broadcasting services that offer qualified UHD content to come," said Lee Kyungshik, an executive vice president at Samsung's visual display division.

Samsung has already signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with five local cable channels in Korea and "won't hesitate to expand alliances with broadcasting and telecommunications companies," Lee said.

The next generation of high definition broadcast is not necessarily good news for current IPTV providers because it requires more than a minimal amount of network infrastructure change to handle the algorithms that provide a richer screen experience, essentially doubling the amount of pixels from today's 1080p resolution TV sets.

"Streaming media is the more likely candidate that can deliver UHD content at the earliest," an industry official told the newspaper.

Perhaps most ominous for service providers hoping to maintain the current HD status quo was a comment from LG President Kwon Hee-won, who agreed that "the UHD market is a totally different market that hasn't been seen before" then added, "the key phrase is 'money talks.' Upon cash flow and the amount of revenue, the level of business partnership is going to be decided."

The big question mark about UHD is whether it will be the next HD or the next 3DTV, which, according to Sweta Dash, senior director of display research and strategy at IHS, "never came to fruition" because it was "faced with a lack of content, high pricing and inconvenient technology."

Dash and IHS agreed that the set makers are vested in UHD, with nearly 943,000 UHD LCD panels expected to ship this year as the advance guard of 7.1 million units shipping in 2015 and 20.8 million units by 2017.

For more:
- Korea Times has this story
- and Broadband TV News has this story

Related articles:
Sony begins selling Ultra HD TVs, but no pay TV distributors offering compatible programming
HBO CTO skeptical about future value of 3DTV, 4K

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