Google rethinks television launch

Google is scaling back the launch of television products that were to be unveiled next month, asking some manufacturers to give it more time to improve the software behind Google TV.

Sony has been selling four television models and a Blu-ray player featuring Google TV, which combines TV viewing with internet surfing, and Samsung and Vizio are expected to add to Google’s line-up at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next month. But Toshiba, Sharp and LG Electronics are holding off, people with knowledge of the plans said on Monday.

A Toshiba spokesperson said it had dropped plans to show Google TV at CES. “We made a mutual decision with Google to hold off until Google TV is more ready, so that we could bring the right product to the market at the right time.” LG declined to comment while Sharp did not respond to questions on the delay, which was first reported by the New York Times.

Google declined to discuss other manufacturers or timing. “We are very happy with the launch of Google TV with our initial partners,” including Sony, chip supplier Intel and Logitech, it said.

“Our long-term goal is to collaborate with a broad community of consumer electronics manufacturers to help drive the next generation TV-watching experience.”

Google declined to discuss other manufacturers and near-term timing but said it was looking forward “to working with other partners to bring more devices to market in the coming years”.

The first versions of Google TV have disappointed many consumers and reviewers because of complex and unfamiliar software. Google hopes that the delay will give it the chance to complete a version of its Android Market – a marketplace for games and other products that run with the device, according to someone briefed on the strategy. “Android Market will be a good addition,” this person said, adding that Google had told the manufacturers that the delay would be “short”.

The Sony and Logitech editions of Google TV require keyboards to serve as remote controls. Searches return both TV listings and associated web content, but the browsing experience is clunkier than on a computer. Logitech offers a set-top box, while Sony offers the integrated TV sets and Blu-ray player.

Google has been encouraging its Android developer community to come up with apps for the bigger screen, even though the marketplace for the apps within Google TV is not due to open until early 2011.

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