Google TV CES Round-Up

--Google Says Google TV Activation Rates Have More than Doubled Since October 2011 Software Update
--Marvell's ARM-Based Foresight Platform Incorporated into Next Generation of Google TV's
--MediaTek Launches 120Hz SoC for Google TV and Other High-End Connected-TV Platforms
--LG Launches 3D Google TV
--Vizio Launches Multiple Google TV Devices
--Sony Unveils Two Google TV Devices
--OnLive Connected-TV Games Platform Integrated with Google TV
--Newly Updated Google Patent Appears to Describe App Marketplace for Video Channels

Google TV generated a fair amount of news at CES. Here is a round-up of announcements and other news from and about the platform:

  • Just prior to CES, a posting on the Google TV blog announced that the platform has seen its activation rates "more than double" since an update last October that enabled "a simpler interface, a new way to discover great Web and TV content, a more TV-like YouTube experience, and Android Market," and that the platform now has over 150 dedicated apps. The posting also alerted readers to a number of "Google TV partners to look out for at CES and throughout 2012: 1) LG--We're thrilled to welcome global consumer electronics leader LG to the Google TV family. LG will showcase a new line of TV's powered by Google TV running on their own L9 chipset at CES [see below]. 2) Marvell--Also new to the Google TV family this year is Marvell, an innovative worldwide leader in chipsets. Marvell will be showcasing a new generation of Google TV solutions which will help bring more products across more price points to consumers [see below]. 3) MediaTek--We're also excited to partner with MediaTek, the leading Taiwanese chipset designer. MediaTek chipsets will power yet another wave of Google TV devices [see below]. 4) Samsung--We're excited to work closely with Samsung to bring Google TV-powered Samsung devices to market in 2012. 5) Sony--We're happy to build on our partnership with Sony. At CES, Sony will unveil new devices for the US and plans to offer Google TV-powered products in several countries around the world in 2012 [see below]. 6) Vizio--Last year we announced our partnership with Vizio at CES. This year we're excited to join Vizio as they hold private demos at CES showcasing their new line of Google TV-powered products [see below]."
  • Marvell announced that its new ARM-based Foresight Platform, which is powered by the Marvell Armada 1500 HD Media System-on-a-Chip (SoC), has been "designed into the next generation of Google TV's debuting at CES 2012 [note: Intel was previously the primary chip supplier for Google TV]. Using Marvell's award-winning Qdeo video processing technology, the Armada-based Foresight Platform is designed to deliver superior 3D video, impressively rich audio, striking 3D graphics and TV-friendly Web content," the company's press materials continue. "For consumers, today's digital home offers an endless choice of devices and content. For OEM's and service providers, it's an all-out sprint to create offerings that perform noticeably better than competitors and at mass-market prices. The Connected TV Marketing Association (CTVMA) estimates 123 million connected TV's will be sold worldwide in 2014. Those consumers will expect access to the services they love--Netflix, Pandora, YouTube, Picasa and many more--in a lightning-fast, crystal-clear and resource-friendly package. Powerful, energy-efficient, ultra-scalable and immensely affordable, the Armada 1500 contains Marvell's highest-performing ARM v6/7-compatible PJ4B SMP super-scalar dual-core CPU. The chip is designed to enable PC-like processing power to support Web browsing with support for Flash and other key technologies--with the aid of more than 6,000 Dhrystone MIPS of computing horsepower, FPU v3.0, 512KB of L2 cache and WMMX2. The Foresight Platform is energy efficient and has advanced cell phone-like power management. The Armada 1500 also contains Marvell's award-winning Qdeo video processing for state-of-the-art HD and 3D video, including scaling, noise reduction, de-interlacing, low bit-rate Internet video enhancement and FRC and color/contrast enhancement. The chip offers VMeta, a multi-format video decoder/encoder/transcoder that can decode up to two simultaneous 1080p streams as well as a host of other video formats and containers. These features make the Foresight Platform ideal for Google TV, which requires tremendous processing power for its numerous applications at a cost-effective price point." Said Google TV's VP of product management, Mario Queiroz: "The Google and Marvell teams have been working closely together to bring our combined software and chipset technologies to market to grow the Google TV ecosystem of manufacturers and devices. Marvell-powered Google TV solutions will enable powerful products to be brought to market at attractive prices." (Note: in a recent interview with Dow Jones Newswires, Google TV's Mario Queiroz discusses Google's non-exclusive partnership with Marvell, and explains that Google decided to start working with chipmakers that employ ARM architecture, rather than Intel's x68 architecture, in order to reduce costs and improve performance.)
  • MediaTek announced the release of a 120Hz SoC for high-end connected TV's, which is being used in next-generation Google TV devices. "In addition to providing an unparalleled 3D viewing experience, the chip is also an industry leader in support for WiFi display technology, which allows smart TV's to synchronize with WiFi network hubs without the use of external modems or Internet connection, ensuring that high-definition content can be easily shared on TV screens anytime or anywhere...MediaTek's new smart-TV single-chip solution offers a number of highly integrated advanced applications. In addition to support for numerous high-definition video image processing technologies, the chip also comes with MediaTek's patented MDDi deinterlace solution, greatly enhancing the clarity of moving images and allowing support for 120Hz MEMC (Motion Estimation, Motion Compensation) and 3D visuals, thus making images even more lifelike and giving consumers a smoother and more vivid viewing experience. As the first to support the next-generation WiFi Alliance Standard, MediaTek's WiFi display technology allows smart TV's to be synchronized with one or more WiFi stations, thus allowing simultaneous broadcast of content between the devices. Enjoying a new smart digital home experience, consumers can now easily share high-definition video content with both friends and family. In addition, MediaTek provides support for digital TV's worldwide common platforms, as well as the customization of solutions, enabling customers to instead focus their resources on product differentiation and various application developments, thereby shortening the time-to-market for products."
  • LG Electronics launched a two-model Google TV-based connected 3D TV line, which it bills as combining "the familiarity of Google's Android OS with the convenience and comfort of LG's 3D and smart-TV technologies, offering consumers a new and attractive home entertainment option...LG Google TV's most attractive feature is its ease of use, thanks to the combination of its Android-based user interface and the Magic Remote Qwerty designed by LG," the company's press materials continue. "LG Google TV's user interface and main screen have been designed for convenient browsing and content selection. Multi-tasking is also possible, as the search, social networking and TV functions can be run simultaneously. The user interface can be accessed using the Magic Remote Qwerty which combines the user-friendly benefits of LG's Magic Remote with a QWERTY keyboard. Equipped with LG's own Cinema 3D technology, LG Google TV provides a home entertainment experience that is immersive, comfortable and convenient. Based on LG's own Film Patterned Retarder (FPR) technology, Cinema 3D glasses are battery-free and lightweight. The glasses are also very affordable, making LG's Google TV ideal for viewing by a large group of family and friends when used in 3D mode. And with a single click of the remote, any 2D content can be viewed in 3D, thanks to the built-in 2D-to-3D conversion engine...LG Smart TV with Google TV will be available in two series at launch in the US in 2012." (Notes: 1) In an interview with Forbes magazine, LG CTO Skott Ahn said that LG is talking to Google about developing a feature that would enable Google TV's to interface with LG home appliances. 2) According to a report from Bloomberg, Google is mulling providing LG with first access to the next generation of the Google TV platform, which is slated to launch before the end of the year.)
  • Vizio unveiled a number of Google TV devices at CES--including: the VBR430 3D Blu-ray player; the $99 VAP430 Stream Player; the R-Series HDTV's (42-, 47-, 55- and 65-inch models); and the 65-inch M3D650SV--which combine the company's VIA Plus TV apps platform with Google TV.
  • Sony unveiled two new devices powered by the Google TV platform: the NSZ-GS7 Network Media Player and the NSZ-GP9 Blu-ray Disc Player, which are scheduled to be available in retail in North America and Europe in early summer, with distribution in other regions to follow later (see the article published on itvt.com, January 10th).
  • OnLive announced that Google has integrated its service as a standard feature of the Google TV platform on devices from all Google TV manufacturers (see the article published on itvt.com, January 12th).
  • A recently updated Google patent appears to describe a Google TV app marketplace for video channels, ReelSEO reported earlier this month. The patent describes a system that "allows content providers to create channels of video content and make them available to users in a marketplace"; that lets users "search or browse for channels of interest, and selectively subscribe to channels"; and that lets users "pay for the right to view premium videos in each channel." In addition, it describes a ranking system for channels, and the ability for a system operator to create bundled channels that include videos from multiple content providers, with the subscription revenue from those channels being distributed back to the content providers.
North America