Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (MRVL) and Google (GOOG) have announced a partnership to use Marvell's silicon technology in a new generation of Google TV boxes to be introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show next week. This represents a parallel move to Apple (AAPL), which introduced a similar chip to its own top of TV box, Apple TV, in 2010.
Goal of New "Connected" Lifestyle
Marvell brings its new Foresight Platform to Google TV, powered by the ARM-based ARMADA 1500 HD Media system-on-a-chip. The chips, in the past, were most commonly found in smart phones, and are designed to provide processing power similar to that of a PC to support web browsing with support for flash. The chips also feature Marvell's Qdeo video processing technology for HD and 3D video, which should improve video and sound quality in a variety of ways.
"Marvell and Google have teamed up to change home entertainment forever – transforming the TV into the command center for our connected lifestyle. Marvell and Google are fundamentally changing the relationship between the producers and consumers of content – from Hollywood to Madison Avenue to publishing and major news networks – creating a dynamic, two-way experience featuring real-time global news, social network, entertainment and information," said Weili Dai , Co-founder of Marvell. "I believe this is a major breakthrough movement and it's just the beginning of our bigger vision. The same forces that are revolutionizing today's television experience will transform numerous vertical applications for small businesses and large enterprises, enhancing the way we all work, connect with each other and collaborate globally."
Still Chasing Apple
Google expressed excitement at the new partnership with Marvell and its potential. "The Google and Marvell teams have been working closely together to bring our combined software and chipset technologies to market to grow the Google TV ecosystem of manufacturers and devices," said Mario Queiroz, VP of product management at Google TV. "Marvell-powered Google TV solutions will enable powerful products to be brought to market at attractive prices." However, the move is essentially mimicking the one made by Apple in 2010 to shift away from Intel (INTC) chips and into ARM-made smart phone chips for its own TV boxes. Google's move appears to be matching that one, and may be too little too late. Early reviews from cnet.com were less than positive.
"It took Google an entire year to deliver a major update to the first round of Google TV products, and it has not been worth the wait," CNET Reviews said. "While it looks and sounds good in theory, the actual user experience is pretty terrible."
Intel May Be Big Loser
Lost in the ongoing, multi-faceted battle between Google and Apple may be the major gain made by Marvell. The original Google TV, released in 2010, featured Intel's Atom Processor. The Atom Processor, though, has clearly begun to fall by the wayside as it's increasingly passed over in favor of more advanced models in many new technologies. Marvell's shares reflected the big win today with gains approaching 7 percent.
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