Google Inc will launch its service to bring the Web to TV screens in the United States this autumn and worldwide next year, its chief executive said, as it extends its reach from the desktop to the living room. CEO Eric Schmidt said the service, which will allow full Internet browsing via the television, would be free, and Google would work with a variety of programme makers and electronics manufacturers to bring it to consumers. “We will work with content providers, but it is very unlikely that we will get into actual content production,” Schmidt told journalists after a keynote speech to the IFA consumer electronics trade fair in Berlin. Sony said last week it had agreed to have Google TV on its television sets, and Samsung has said it was looking into using the service. The announcement comes less than a week after rival Apple unveiled its latest Apple TV product and will intensify a battle for consumers’ attention and potentially for the USD 180 billion global TV advertising market.
Apple Inc unveiled a smaller, cheaper version of its Web-to-TV device on Wednesday, stepping up a battle with Google Inc and Microsoft Corp for control of the digital living room. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs also rolled out a completely overhauled lineup of iPod media players and the latest version of iTunes, with a new logo that does away with the outdated image of a CD. The new Apple TV device, which accesses content from the Internet and plays it on a TV, will sell for USD 99. It is a quarter the size of the original, which cost USD 229. The 4-inch-square device allows users to rent TV shows for 99 cents and first-run films for USD 4.99. Earlier models, which allowed users to only buy shows, failed to find a major audience. Alongside renting TV shows and movies, Apple TV users will be able to stream content from video rental site Netflix Inc. Analysts were lukewarm toward the device, though some saw it as only a small, initial step in a much more ambitious plan