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January 03, 2011

Vizio Taps Google Android to Enter Smartphone, Tablet Market

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Vizio is no longer satisfied with remaining solely in the flat-screen TV market. According to a CNET report, the company is making the move into the smartphone and tablet computer space and plans to work with Google to compete on par with Apple and Research in Motion.

This news caught public attention when the company ran an ad before the Rose Bowl game this past weekend. Vizio is expected to reveal its wireless products during a Monday news conference, before the kick-off of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas later this week. This information has been confirmed in reports by both Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal.

Dubbed the Via Phone (News - Alert), Vizio’s smartphone product will feature a four-inch screen and front- and rear-facing cameras. The Via Tablet will offer an 8-inch high-resolution screen, WiFi and a front-facing camera. Both devices are reportedly powered by the Google (News - Alert) Android operating system and will be sold in Walmart and Costco stores.

An Irvine, Calif.-based company, Vizio is best known for its low-cost TVs and Blu-ray players. Industry experts expect the company will face tough competition from the Apple iPhone and iPad and RIM’s BlackBerry (News - Alert) devices and the upcoming PlayBook tablet.

According to iSupply, a market research firm, tablet sales are expected to more than triple from 18 million units in 2010 to 61 million in 2011. The challenge is that the Android market is already crowded and growing. In fact, 15 suppliers are preparing to compete for the consumer dollar in 2011, including Acer (News - Alert), Dell, Cisco Systems and Samsung, and all will offer the Android OS.

Earlier this year, Vizio announced a wireless Internet router optimized for VIZIO Internet Apps. The platform, which the company claims enables viewers to experience the best of the Web and on-demand content, will offer consumers even more entertainment on demand, such as streaming HD movies, TV episodes, music, photos and social networking.

The company announced in November that its six-time award winning XVT3SV Series added 3D technology to its most coveted line. VIZIO's 3D launch will feature three full HD 3D XVT Series TVs with VIZIO Internet Apps (VIA) available in 42-inch, 47-inch and 55-inch screen sizes. The units are now available online at Amazon.com (News - Alert), SamsClub.com, Target.com and VIZIO.com.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

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