Could Samsung and ARM Save Google TV?

Despite having its own TV software and app platform, Samsung has long been rumored to potentially build TVs and Blu-ray players based on the Google TV (s GOOG) operating system. The latest report, which came from Bloomberg Thursday, is that Samsung is considering releasing Google TV products based on ARM (s ARMH) rather than Intel (s INTC) chips. The addition of another chip platform to the Google TV ecosystem could not only boost distribution of Google’s operating system for connected devices, but also lower the cost of those products for CE makers and consumers alike.

While announced to much fanfare last year, Google TV has had a difficult time gaining traction in the market. One reason commonly cited for the lack of consumer adoption is the price of Google TV-based products, which typically run several hundreds of dollars more than comparable Internet-connected TVs. The Logitech Revue set-top box, for instance, was introduced with a price tag of $299, which is $200 more than products like the Roku and Apple TV, and $100 more than the Boxee Box.

That price premium is due in part to the cost of materials required to run the Google TV OS, which include pricey Intel Atom processors, 1GB of unified RAM for video and application data and an additional 4GB of persistent flash memory for system and data storage. While Google execs have said over and over they believe people will pay for the added value they get from being able to access the web and selected applications on their TVs, so far, consumers haven’t shown much interest in paying a premium for Google TV devices.

But if Samsung creates Google TV devices based on ARM chips, it has the potential to offer those connected TVs and Blu-ray players at a lower cost than current products running the OS. That’s because ARM processors are generally cheaper than those from Intel, which is one reason so many Google Android mobile devices use ARM chipsets.

For now, the “will they, won’t they” question of whether or not Samsung will fully support Google TV deployments remains up in the air. After all, Samsung has already invested heavily in its own software and integrated app store. But if Google makes ARM chip support available for Samsung, it could not only help spur adoption of the platform, but it could help lower the cost of building devices based on the OS for other CE manufacturers.

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