The future of television is always a hot topic of speculation at the Consumer Electronics Show. Though hype over 3D televisions cooled quickly after the show last year, this year’s TV’s trend taps into a movement that’s become the watchword of the consumer electronics industry: convergence.

Companies are scrambling to be the one-stop shop for Web, media consumption, social networking and gaming.

It’s a great dream, but somehow the smart TV industry as a whole has failed to break into the mainstream. For Google, the road to the living room has been particularly rocky. Google TV has yet to take off and suffered a slight setback when partner Logitech announced that it would stop making the Google TV-enabled Revue in November.

Google is planning to bounce back from that hitch in its plans, however, by expanding the number of its manufacturing partners. In a company blog post, Google announced that LG, Samsung, Sony and Vizio plus chipmakers Marvell and MediaTek will show Google TV hardware prototypes at the Consumer Electronics Show next week.

Announcing its partnership with several of the world’s largest television manufacturers (which also offer televisions in a range of price points) could be Google’s best shot at kicking off its smart TV revolution.

All of this, of course, comes as rumors swirl that CES no-show Apple is cooking up its own version of a connected television, a device that Apple fans have dubbed the iTV or the Apple TV.

An Apple-branded television has long been a pet theory of Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, and a throwaway comment from late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in his authorized biography — saying that he’d “cracked” a way to make an integrated set — sparked a fresh round of speculation over the device. There’s some debate over whether Jobs was referring to television software or hardware. Extending the iOS platform to televisions would be a far easier thing to do than taking on production; the television hardware industry is a difficult one to break into, as consumers tend to take long periods of time between purchasing sets.

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