Sony Offers Four TV Models, Blu-ray Player With Google Software

Sony Corp. unveiled four Internet- enabled televisions for the U.S. that use Google Inc. software to let viewers access websites and Web videos, betting consumer demand for online content will revive slowing TV sales in the U.S. market.

The largest model, the 46-inch LED Sony Internet TV set, will sell for $1,399.99 and include a new remote created to make it easy to type in information for Web searches, the company said yesterday in an e-mailed statement.

Sony, based in Tokyo, joins Logitech International SA and Intel Corp. in backing Google’s effort to make it easy for consumers to use the Internet and watch TV at the same time. The companies are capitalizing on growing demand for Web-based programming and information on large screens, competing against devices such as Apple Inc.’s Apple TV.

Internet connectivity is Sony’s focus as demand remains weak in the U.S. even after introduction of 3-D models, said Nobuo Kurahashi, an analyst at Mizuho Financial Group Inc. in Tokyo. “Internet TV is still at a nascent stage and the content lineup will be crucial to lure customers.”

TV shipment volume in North America dropped 3 percent in the second quarter, while worldwide shipments rose 26 percent, according to researcher DisplaySearch. U.S. sales of 3-D sets were less than expected, Yoshihisa Ishida, president of Sony’s home-entertainment business group, said in August.

Sony rose 0.5 percent to 2,600 yen as of 1:40 p.m. in Tokyo trading, in line the benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average’s gain. Google advanced 0.5 percent to $541.39 in Nasdaq Stock Market yesterday.

Retail Prices

The TVs are expected to be available at Best Buy Co. and SonyStyle retail stores by Oct. 16, Jeff Goldstein, Sony’s vice president of Connected Home Products & Services Home Division, said in an interview.

Sony will sell the 40-inch, 32-inch and 24-inch models for $999.99, $799.99 and $599.99 respectively. The company will also offer a Blu-ray DVD player with Internet connectivity for $399.99.

“The prices don’t look too high compared with Sony’s existing models,” said Michiko Kakiya, a Tokyo-based analyst at Macquarie Group Ltd. “I doubt if Sony will be able to make a profit on the models. I’m not sure if they’ll have a positive impact on Sony’s earnings.”

The TVs will offer Web services including the Sony online movie and TV service Qriocity, Pandora, YouTube, Napster and Twitter, according to the statement.

Android Software

Google plans to extend its Web TV service from U.S. viewers to audiences globally in 2011, Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt said last month. The TV sets will work with Intel’s chips in products by Sony and Logitech, Google said in May.

The software was adapted from Mountain View, California- based Google’s Android operating system and Chrome Internet browser to display TV programming from cable and satellite sources and video from the Web. Applications written for existing versions of Android, used in mobile phones, will now work on TV screens.

Logitech, based in Romanel-sur-Morges, Switzerland, on Oct. 6 introduced its own Google TV product, Revue, that will sell for $299.99 and includes a keyboard that doubles as a remote control.

The service will include video-on-demand features from Amazon.com Inc. and Netflix Inc., Google has said.

Logitech is offering a $149.99 high-definition video camera that will work with the Revue to provide video calls from the sofa. The company is also selling a smaller keyboard for $129.99.

Cupertino, California-based Apple unveiled a lower-priced version of its Apple TV set-top box on Sept. 1. The $99 device offers high-definition TV programs, which viewers can watch for 99 cents, and works with Netflix’s online service.

To contact the reporter on this story: Cliff Edwards in San Francisco at cedwards28@bloomberg.net. Mariko Yasu in Tokyo at myasu@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net; Young-Sam Cho at ycho2@bloomberg.net.

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