Focus on tech companies as Google readies TV launch, Japanese giants hit back

Eagerly-awaited Google TV, a web-meets-TV offering, is due to launch later this month and before then Sony will launch a combined TV and Blu-ray player powered by the Google system and box maker Logitech will bring out its version of the set-top gadget that powers it all.

Big US TV networks NBC Universal, Times Warner and Turner Broadcasting have all announced enhanced channels to run on Google TV including live share price feeds and real-time coverage of the build-up to major sports events like NBA matches.

Not to be outdone, Toshiba has announced that it will launch two ‘glasses free’ 3D TVs in December, a 12” and 20” model. It will also unveil the prototype of a killer 56″ model.

Sales of 3D TVs are expected to rise from four million this year to 78m by 2015 but Toshiba is clearly calculating, rightly probably, that this growth would increase exponentially if you could only get rid of those pesky glasses.

Rather left at the church by all this are three of the giants of the tech world, Apple, Intel and Microsoft. Apple was one of the first companies to produce an internet TV offer but it has failed to fly and Google’s willingness to licence its technology (something Apple won’t do) has enabled it to secure a solid lead, assuming the system works of course.

Shares in all three companies slid more than the tech sector overall yesterday on Wall Street as analysts fretted about the competition they faced. Chip maker Intel was marked down over fears that the world was weaning itself of its PC habit as more and more people use phones and tablet computers for their computing.

Apple’s iPhone and iPad have made great inroads into the US corporate market as employers welcome the vast number of free apps and also the ability to get their employees out of the office as they are no longer chained to a desktop computer.

Samsung, Toshiba and others are bringing out rival tablets to the iPad before the end of the year but, so far, no hard news from Microsoft. So the company which conquered the world with Office and Windows is in danger of being left behind as computing and mobiles merge.

Fortunes seem to change in the tech market on almost a daily basis so it would be foolish to write off Apple, Intel and Microsoft. But ‘old world’ technology companies like Japan’s Sony and Toshiba are giving them a run for their money, thanks largely to Google technology.

The recent actions by the Japanese government to drive down the value of the yen to boost export sales won’t hurt them either.

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