Breakout

As Sony Struggles, Battle for the Smart TV Heats Up

Jeff Macke
Breakout

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With Sony's (SNE) baffling decision to focus on digital imaging, games and portable devices another competitor fell out of the race to create the next generation, "smart" television.

Now that a preeminent electronics maker has bowed out, who wins in race for the heart and mind of your living room?

Sean Udall, tech analyst and editor of the TechStrat Report, says the hardware side looks to be coming down to some of the usual suspects: Apple (AAPL) and their much hyped but still hypothetical "iTV," versus two others.

Udall is hearing rumors of Samsung and Google (GOOG) "partnering up to produce some pretty compelling, let's call them web-connected TVs or interactive TVs."

The reasons Google would bother making a low margin box aren't initially obvious unless you consider the history of consumer electronic revolutions. The current situation "looks awfully like the smartphone world right now where you have Apple and Samsung beating the heck out of everyone else," says Udall.

It's also not as certain that Google will stay in the hardware game, he says, leaving the reigning kings of search in a business with which they're more familiar: the reinvention of existing software interfaces.

"The core vision of what TV has and what it delivers hasn't changed since the advent of cable," he notes by way of pointing out that a refresh is long overdue, despite the television set's leap from the floor to your wall.

No matter who dominates your living room, the fact is more bandwidth will be needed. This makes the real winner of the revolution the companies that make the physical routing hardware and the groups that make the data flow from YouTube to YourHouse even faster.

Udall rattles off a list of his favorites, among which are: "Old School" Cisco (CSCO), Ciena (CIEN), Juniper (JNPR), Broadcom (BRCM) and pretty much anything fiber optic.

Of these, the one he's personally buying is Cavium (CAVM); a key name in the business of 4G LTE and all things involved with online speed.

What's the best way to invest in the battle to reinvent the TV? Let us know in the comment section below or visit us on Facebook.

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