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IKEA to Join Google, Apple in the 'Alternative TV' Market

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Swedish furniture giant IKEA is looking to get into television. Beginning this month in a few European stores, the purveyor of cheap DIY home furnishings will sell the HDTV stand/entertainment system Uppleva.

Hoping convenience and customer thriftiness will prevail over the need for truly bleeding edge equipment, the company is packaging a serviceably standard television with the cabinet in hopes of grabbing shoppers looking for both. A press release from Chinese company TCL Corporation confirms that they are working with IKEA to make the electronics.

But they’re not really selling just a TV and its supporting furniture. IKEA is selling a TV cabinet that comes with everything. The Uppleva has a built in HDTV, Blu-ray/DVD player, and wireless subwoofer.

This is a particularly odd time to get into the TV business, with industry heavies like Sony (SNE) and Panasonic (PC) performing rather poorly in 2011. But IKEA isn’t looking to compete with the big boys spec-for-spec. They’re just trying to add one more item to your cart before you reach a cashier.

The Uppleva is joining the ranks of other alternative entries in the TV market, like Google TV (GOOG) and the much-rumored, still unconfirmed Apple iTV (AAPL).

The Uppleva TVs will also allow people to do some impulse buying from their couch. A planned online shopping feature is on the way, allowing viewers to buy the products in an advertisement through an e-commerce platform within the web-enabled TV.

The purchasing feature in the Uppleva puts IKEA ahead of companies and services like HBO (TWX) that are still hesitant to adapt to the changing business of television.

This is an exciting time for the budget furniture giant, as they have also been accused of clearing an ancient Russian Forest and are still investigating whether or not they unknowingly used Cuban prison labor.

A TV/stand combo should smooth things over -- at least with college students.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.