The Panasonic Viera PZ850 line of Internet-connected high-definition plasma television sets was unveiled this week at the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. CNN Money reports that Google and YouTube have partnered with Japan’s Matsushita Electric Industrial to bring this new line of plasma TVs to the market.
Matsushita is the worldâ€™s largest manufacturer of plasma televisions, trading under the brand name Panasonic. The consumer electronics giant will launch flat panel television sets that let users access YouTube and Google Picasa web albums on the Internet through their television sets via a button on the remote control. This will be a free service.
The first of these television sets will be launched in the U.S. some time in spring this year. A decision regarding the global launch will be taken later depending on the response in the U.S. Though this is not the first time users will be able to access the Internet through a television set (Sony already has a similar deal with CBS and some others), it is a first for Google.
If Google and Panasonic succeed in manufacturing television sets that allow internet access without significantly raising the cost of TV sets they are likely to capture a large portion of the market. This would give Google a foothold in television advertising and allow them to test the market. The move will also strengthen YouTubeâ€™s position in the highly competitive offline entertainment market.