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1/6/2012
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Google TV Trades Atom For ARM

A platform shift from Intel to Marvell silicon might make Google TV devices more affordable and easier to use.

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Google on Thursday revealed several new partnerships related to Google TV products that will debut at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The most noteworthy of these involves semiconductor maker Marvell, which will be providing next-generation Google TV hardware with its ARMADA 1500 HD Media system-on-a-chip (SoC).

Marvell's ARMADA 1500 SoC is an ARM-based chip and is expected to cost less than the x86-based Intel Atom chip that powered the first generation of Google TV devices. ARM-based Google TV devices also should make it easier for Android developers to adapt their apps to run on Google TV.

The first generation of Google TV devices failed to sell well in part because of the cost of the hardware. In November, Logitech CEO Guerrino De Luca blamed weak earnings during the company's fiscal 2012 first quarter on the company's decision to sell the Logitech Revue for $300, among other things. A subsequent price drop to $99 showed that there was demand for Google TV devices at a more affordable cost.

[ What should you expect from CES? Read CES 2012 Preview: Ultrabooks Everywhere. ]

Apple might be responsible for setting market expectations with its $99 Apple TV device and the company continues to cast a shadow over Google TV, thanks to reports that it will introduce its own TV set in 2012. Furthermore, hackers recently managed to alter Apple TV units to run iOS apps, underscoring how easy it will be for Apple to support iOS apps officially on Apple TV devices. In so doing, Apple would raise the stakes in its competition with Google, which has made the availability of Android apps on Google TV a major selling point.

In a blog post on Thursday, Mickey Kim, head of Google TV partnerships, noted that Google now has over 150 Android apps developed specifically for Google TV and that thousands of apps developed for Android phones also can be expected to work on Google TV.

Beyond naming Marvell as a partner, Kim also announced that the list of Google TV hardware makers now includes consumer electronics company LG and chip maker MediaTek, along with previously known partners Samsung, Sony, and Vizio.

LG, said Kim, will be showing a new line of TVs with Google TV support, powered by the company's L9 chipset, at CES next week, but the company already has tipped its hand. LG on Friday announced LG Smart TV with Google TV, which includes the company's Cinema 3D and Smart TV technologies. The company claims its 3D TV will be exceptionally easy to use, thanks to its Magic Remote Qwerty, a remote control unit with a keyboard. LG Smart TV with Google TV is expected to be available some time in 2012. No price has been disclosed.

Sony also is expected to show off a new TV with Google TV at CES. Vizio will be holding private demonstrations of its own Google TV device at the electronics show.

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