Google TV goes live in Korea

18 Oct 2012

ITEM [via FierceIPTV]: Google enters South Korea’s IPTV market via local IPTV player LG Uplus and – notably – an integrated set-top box.

According to the company’s Google TV blog:

New and existing LG Uplus subscribers can get the u+tv G starting today [October 15], bringing live TV and 50,000 on demand titles, now integrated with Google TV apps like Search, YouTube, Google Play and Chrome.

Google says Korea is the tenth market to launch Google TV, and the first to be available through an integrated STB instead of either an integrated TV set or a companion box connected between the TV and a STB.

Interestingly, according to GigaOm, the integrated STB is made by LG Uplus [via LG Electronics], not Motorola Mobility – which not only makes STBs, but (in case you’d forgotten) is owned by Google.

However, that’s not necessarily surprising – whatever Google’s plans are for leveraging Motorola Mobility for Google TV, I doubt it could have landed a deal with LG Uplus by forcing it to use hardware it’s perfectly capable of making itself.

Then again, there’s those rumors that Google is looking to sell off Motorola Mobility’s STB business in part because pay-TV operators don’t want open-platform STBs.

Either way, it may be a moot point, depending on whether an integrated Google TV STB helps improve the viewer experience, which has been a major point of criticism for the service (as well as competitors like Apple TV).

And in any case, as Tony Brown from Informa Telecoms & Media recently pointed out, IPTV overall has been a struggle for most Asian players outside of Singapore and Hong Kong – at least when it comes to competing against traditional cable TV.

Still, Google TV does have one possible advantage in its bid to strike IPTV gold in Korea: local rapper Psy, the man who gave the world “Gangnam Style”, is fronting the u+tv G marketing campaign.

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