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LG Bows New Blu-ray Players, Web-Enabled TVs and Content Partners

By Erik Gruenwedel | Posted: 07 Jan 2009

LAS VEGAS — LG Electronics opened the 2009 International CES confab with the introduction of two new slimmer Blu-ray players (BD370 and BD390), wireless plasma and LCD televisions with internal HDMI connectivity and content partners Yahoo and YouTube.

LG current content partnerships Netflix and download service CinemaNow are both incorporated in the new profile 2.0 BD players, which are slated to be released this spring. The manufacturer previously announced that the online DVD rental pioneer’s instant streaming service would be included in its line of Internet-enabled high-definition plasma and LCD televisions.

Web-connected HDTVs are a common theme at CES.

Michael Ahn, president and CEO of LG Electronics North America, said expansion of high-definition products was based on research that found 59% of consumers sought home entertainment in 2008, including 39% who opted for TV programming and 35% for a packaged media disc.

Peter Reiner, SVP of marketing and strategy, said consumer demand necessitated partnering with Yahoo for news, music and video, and YouTube for user-generated content.

“Now consumers have two ways to get information from the Internet: our Blu-ray players and HD televisions,” Reiner said.

As previously mentioned, LG showcased a 55-inch LED backlit LCD TV display that is just 24.8mm thick. The company is carrying 36 models, the majority in 1080p resolution. It also announced three Blu-ray-based home theater systems.

Because it is CES, LG unveiled a Dick Tracy-type watch phone it claimed was the smallest 3G phone in the world, and also capable of sending text messages, playing music and telling time.

LG said it sold a cell phone every second in the United States last year, with 64% of consumers now using a cell phone as their primary phone, up 10% from 2007. It said U.S. consumers sent more text messages in 2008 than voicemail.

Ahn said LG reached 92% market penetration in the United States, compared to 83% in 2007 and 75% in 2006. Despite the economic turbulence in the fourth quarter, LG revenue topped $13 billion, up 16% from 2007, which exceeded company goals, according to Ahn.

Global revenue was just $5.6 billion five years ago.

“We will not reduce marketing spending and R&D in 2009,” Ahn said. “2009 will be a challenging year in many ways, but it will also present an opportunity [for LG] to differentiate itself from its competitors.”

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