Yahoo unveils partners for Web TV push at CES

By Gabriel Madway

Las Vegas (Reuters) – Yahoo Inc unveiled on Wednesday a list of partners to aid its push to bring the Internet and television together, hoping their joint effort will finally connect with consumers.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Yahoo said it has forged deals with companies including Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, LG Electronics Inc, Sony Corp and Vizio, which will make high-definition TVs that support Yahoo’s online service.

Ever since the dawn of the Internet Age, tech companies have been promising to bring “convergence” of the online and TV universes, but those efforts have failed to take off with consumers who have found such products difficult to use.

The new TVs announced on Wednesday will be in the market as early as the spring and will support widgets — small Internet applications — that run alongside broadcast TV content, but not over it.

The applications can be used for a wide array of Web activities, like watching videos on Google Inc’s YouTube.com, social networking on News Corp’s MySpace.com, tracking stocks and sports teams, buying and selling on eBay, messaging friends using Twitter, or using Yahoo’s own photo-sharing website Flickr.

The widgets will allow viewers more interaction with the programs they’re watching, Yahoo said. There will also be applications based on Yahoo-branded services such as Yahoo Finance.

Yahoo, which has lagged behind larger rival Google in the Web search market, will use the technology as a new avenue to sell advertising.

In an interview ahead of CES, Patrick Barry, vice president of connected TV at Yahoo, said TV “is still top of mind for advertisers,” the place where people spend the most time.

He said the key to successfully bringing the online experience to TV is to preserve what people love most about the Internet — openness, choice and personalization — without destroying the viewing experience.

“In a lot of ways, these are two different worlds, but we believe that users are increasingly looking for more out of their media platforms.”

The technology also allows outsiders to write TV applications for the platform.

The Web TV effort was originally announced by Yahoo last August in conjunction with Intel Corp, the world’s largest chipmaker. However, Samsung, LG, Sony and Vizio will not be using Intel chips in their widget-enabled TVs, a Yahoo spokesman said.

Separately, Toshiba Corp announced that it would be making TVs featuring the Yahoo online service that do run Intel’s CE 3100 processor.

Yahoo said it released the widget development kit for developers on Wednesday in partnership with Intel.

(Reporting by Gabriel Madway, editing by Tiffany Wu, Richard Chang)

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