NEW DELHI: Consumer electronics companies such as Sony, Panasonic and Samsung are all competing to attract Indian viewers to the new generation of web-enabled TV sets.
Samsung, the Korean manufacturer, recently expressed an interest in producing devices employing Google TV, which the US search giant intends to roll out globally in 2011.
However, Samsung has already introduced Blu-ray players and 3D TVs boasting the ability to surf the net via an Ethernet connection or mobile "dongle".
Its Internet@TV platform provides applications from content sources including the Associated Press, Blockbuster, Netflix, Twitter and YouTube.
"Web apps on TVs will be the biggest change in the TV experience," Ravinder Zutshi, deputy managing director of Samsung India, told the Business Standard.
"We will sell over 30,000 3D TVs in India this year, and these 3D LED TVs have capability to connect to the internet."
Sony, which partnered with Google and Logitech on Google TV, unveiled its Bravia NX series in India earlier in 2010, incorporating WiFi, and allowing access to a variety of online portals.
"Bravia internet widgets give users configurable and customisable add-ons to news, weather and all sorts of information," said Tadato Kimura, general manager, marketing, at Sony India.
"Looking forward, we see a huge demand for internet-enabled televisions."
More broadly, Sony aims to draw 30% of its Indian revenue from 3D goods by 2012, with output spanning appliances, gaming and programming.
"We plan to become the market leader of 3D on account of providing the most comprehensive range of 3D products and content solutions," said Masaru Tamagawa, managing director, Sony India.
"[The] Indian consumer is willing to experiment and hence we have high hopes from this technology."
Elsewhere, Panasonic's Viera sets supply on-demand streaming for 3D films, although this requires a significant bandwidth to handle substantial files.
"We have already launched Panasonic V series plasma television which supports such web-based applications," said Manish Sharma, director, marketing, Panasonic India.
Shoppers in large cities, who possess higher scope for discretionary expenditure and high-speed internet links, have proved particularly enthusiastic, Sharma added.
"The product has been in good demand in major metro markets," he said.
Mirc Electronics, an indigenous player in this sector, is also quickly establishing a presence, as it seeks to take on several multinational rivals.
"[There is great potential] for a single-product offering to integrate the set-top box, the DVD player, the web connection and the content storage device," said K Sriram, its vp, marketing, sales and services.
"We already have web-capability technology available, we are focusing on the high-end LCD and LED TV space to deliver this feature."
Rohit Pandit, home entertainment head of LG India, argued such a model has considerable possibilities, but at present the relevant infrastructure is not in place nationwide.
"The ecosystem required to make internet TVs a success is high-speed internet connectivity and quality content," said Pandit.
"It's a new platform on which content providers will reach home consumers with both general and exclusive content and the benefit to the consumer is the freedom to access."
Data sourced from Business Standard/Sony; additional content by Warc staff