LG to power more than 70 per cent of its smart TVs with mobile software from Palm

SEOUL, South Korea – LG will bring the software that once powered Palm’s smartphones to the majority of its Internet-connected TVs this year.

The South Korean firm unveiled webOS-based smart TVs at a trade fair Monday in Las Vegas, less than a year after it bought the operating system for smartphones and tablet computers from Hewlett-Packard Co.

LG Electronics Inc.’s chief technology officer, Skott Ahn, said the software will make LG TVs easier to set up and use. However, Ahn didn’t show any radical new capabilities not present on other TVs.

HP bought Palm Inc. in 2010 with a view to gaining a foothold in the world of smartphones, but it closed the division in late 2011 after disappointing sales. Last March, HP sold Palm’s crown jewel, the webOS software, to LG. LG is the world’s second-largest TV maker by shipments after Samsung Electronics Co.

Makers of television sets have been hoping to mimic the robust growth in the smartphone industry by introducing Internet-connected televisions that can run applications the way smartphones do.

More than 70 per cent of LG’s new smart TVs this year will be based on webOS, which helps simplify searching contents and setting up the TV. LG also expects the new OS will make it easy for developers to write applications for its TVs. LG aims to use webOS to increase communications between smart TVs and other devices.

Although LG did not say what other devices will become compatible with smart TVs, consumer electronics makers are envisioning households where consumers can easily control all kinds of home appliances and gadgets from one place.

At LG’s press conference at the International CES gadget show in Las Vegas, Netflix Inc. CEO Reed Hastings announced that the Internet video service will stream its “House of Cards” show in ultra-high definition “4K” resolution to LG webOS TVs this year. Netflix had earlier announced that it would stream the show in 4K to unspecified TVs. The show in 4K won’t be exclusive to LG TVs; it’s coming to Vizio sets, among others, too.

Samsung is also seeking to make a television set that can serve as a centre for controlling refrigerators, lighting and air-conditioning in a household, a concept that consumer electronics companies call “smart home.”

Another new TV product that LG unveiled at this year’s annual gadget show was a 77-inch OLED TV that viewers can adjust the screen’s curvature between a flat screen and a slightly curved screen through a remote control.

LG touted the product as the world’s first flexible OLED TV. But the new TV’s screen is not completely flexible as it cannot be folded in half.

LG’s rival Samsung also gave public a look at a prototype of a bendable LCD TV at the CES gadget show.

Both LG and Samsung put curves in their television sets last year hoping to lure shoppers with technological novelty. At this year’s gadget show, the two Korean companies applied curves to bigger television sets and more diverse products, displaying for the first time 105-inch curved TVs with 4K resolution.


AP Technology Writer Peter Svensson contributed to this report from Las Vegas.