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Summary:

What with self-driving cars and such, Eric Schmidt is not averse to some blue-sky thinking. But one new prediction may be a moonshot too far…

Eric Schmidt
photo: Le Web

What with self-driving cars and such, Eric Schmidt is not averse to some blue-sky thinking. But one new prediction may be a moonshot too far.

“By the summer of 2012, the majority of the televisions you see in stores will have Google (NSDQ: GOOG) TV embedded in it,” Schmidt said on stage at the Le Web conference.

The whole connected TV space will explode in 2012, as more new TVs ship with internet connectivity, bringing new content services to the living room. The on-screen gateway to that room is up for grabs.

So far, Google TV has shipped, somewhat experimentally and not wildly successfully, on just a Logitech box and a Sony (NYSE: SNE) TV.

Home electronics makers themselves look well placed. Samsung, LG (SEO: 066570), Panasonic and their ilk, including Sony, are already preferring to ship their own smart TV interfaces with their TVs. Samsung TV already has almost 1,000 apps for its Smart TV system.

Convincing any of the manufacturers to adopt Google TV over their own varieties looks way more difficult than it has been in the mobile sector. And that’s not even accounting for how, in many countries, TV is dominated by several big platforms and pay-TV vendors in a way mobile is not.

Schmidt, whose latest Android Ice Cream Sandwich variant is slick, is bullish because he thinks Google TV, which is essentially Android, will replicate the operating system’s mobile success. Told, on stage, that iPhone has a mobile lead, Schmidt retorted, rhetorically…

“What kind of lead? Android is ahead of the iPhone now – by unit volume, with ICS features, prices are lower, with more vendors, more pricepoints – do I need to continue the list? It’s free.”

Though Schmidt talked incessantly about competition being good, his defensive response to a suggestion that Google+ is a Facebook imitator ran contrary to this.

One company comes to define a certain area – you’re better off trying to find something new that’s differentiated,” Schmidt said on that topic. “That’s what we’re trying to do with Google+, with many more products to come.”

Asked from the floor why the quality of Android’s app line-up pales against iOS’ despite Android’s shipment win and despite its apps catching up by volume, Schmidt said:

Six months from now, you’ll say the opposite. Ultimately, application vendors are driven by volume. The volume is favoured by the open approach Google is taking. Whether you like ICS or not, you will want to develop for that platform, perhaps even first.”

To summarise – in six months’ time, Android will be trumping iOS for apps and will be the dominant smart TV platform, Schmidt suggested.

  1. This is pie in the sky.

    Google is generating hype, and as usual evidently commentators are lapping it up and generating headlines like this one. In their arrogance, Google’s executives are setting-up the corporation for yet another embarrassing failure. The greater the hype, the greater the humiliation.

    I can confidently make a counter-prediction. Most TVs will NOT have Google TV within six months. In fact, Google TV won’t be in most TVs even in twelve months. I still remember the launch of Google Radio, Google Wave, Google Buzz, etc.

    Google must have forgotten to account for external factors, for instance consumer demand, manufacturing, supply-chain, etc.

    More importantly, Google TV is a nice concept, but it has rather missed the point. The future of TV is looking interesting, but Google TV has no clear role in the long-term future of TV.

    #GFail

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  2. This is doubtful, but even if most TVs in stores had a GoogleTV function, that doesn’t mean most people would be using GoogleTV. Televisions have a much longer replacement cycle than cell phones. Part of the reason Android has spread so fast is people replace/upgrade their phones every two years. Having GoogleTV sitting in stores doesn’t really matter if a large chunk of the population just replaced their TV (which they did). I just wrote a blog post on why because of this, XBox may well take over the connected living room.

    http://digitalpennies.com/2011/12/07/the-three-pillars-of-connected-television-%E2%80%93-why-xbox-may-rule-the-living-room/

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    1. “XBox may well take over the connected living room.”

      Another pipe dream prediction. There are far too many cheaper and better set top boxes available that make the leap to Web connectivity to put M$ at the top. Particularly in the face of so many aging boomers that dont game yet maintain a conventional television environment.

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      1. Ric, there are already 52 Million XBox in households and 35 Million people using XBox Live. That means they’re already in more households than ComCast, TimeWarner, FiOS, etc. Given that, I’d say M$ is already at the top. None of the cheaper or better set top boxes come anywhere close. I’d also argue the way that aging boomers discover connected television in the first place is via their children (and grandchildren) who are connecting via a game console.

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  3. Good point Kevin.  I don’t plan on buying another TV for years.  The flat screen I have now is fine.

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  4. This actually isn’t crazy at all, though it may sound it.
    Samsung(according to a couple of Google searches) has around 58% of US TV market share. They’re apparently going to produce Google TV-enabled Televisions. LG might also be doing that. Whilst I’ve no idea what LG’s US market share is, remember that Sony currently also produce Google TVs.
    Even if Sony walked away and we assume a modest 5% market share for LG, that’s still more than 60% of market share. If both companies pushed it hard and in doing so produced many models, yes you could see the majority of new televisions on sale by Summer next year having Google TV embedded.

    Remember, he didn’t say that the majority of purchased TVs would have it embedded, but those in stores. It’s really not as unlikely as people seem to think.

    30 seconds of research really goes a long way. 

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  5. Would be nice if they bothered doing something with SageTV.

    I love my Tivo but with the recent price increase the cheapest new Tivo would cost me $500 (hardware + lifetime guide service)

    Since one can buy TV guide info for $20/year retail, Google can pay a fraction of that, toss in some flash memory to offer a basic built-in DVR.

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  6. given a choice between a Google TV and an Xbox with the new media capabilities… I’m hard pressed to see why a TV maker would want to bake in the extra cost to run something that has so little real content available. If Google were actually innovating and doing content deals to bring me the content I wanted (so I could cut the CableTV cord) then it would be interesting but just scraping youTube doesn’t really cut it

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  7. with the purchase of mototola mobility and their TV settop unit, a variation of that statement is almost assured

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  8. Who the hell cares if Google trumps Apple trumps Xbox trumps TV makers. Ads created television–then–and NOW. The only thing that matters isn’t who wins–but–what the advertisements will look and where they’ll be placed. Considering, traditional television watching is down:

    SAY Media released a study in November with
    comScore and IPG Media Lab that finds one-third of the online adult population
    – approximately 56 million people — had either stopped watching television
    live or watched most of their video programming on a platform other than live
    television.

    One might wonder–where have all the advertisements gone?

    Wi-fi enabled television = better data on household watching and more targeted ads. Which basically equates job security.

    In a down economy, this break-through should be an answered prayer. Get me?

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  9. I doubt that Google TV will be able to make such in roads in the market place.  Logitech is already discontinuing the sale of Google TV devices because they were not able to sell them at a profitable price point and had to drop the price to $99 bucks.  Sony made a goofy looking TV with sub-par specs (come on seriously an LED TV with a 60hz refresh and no 3d??) and it’s not selling too well.  Samsung and LG are both doing their own thing and quite happy about it.

    Unfortunately, none of them make an interface that’s worth using.  The best interface I’ve seen for TV is either Plex or XBMC.  None of the TV companies have adopted that, and you have to Jailbreak AppleTV to run it, although there is a promising port of Plex on the Samsung TV’s now (again have to work around to do this).  Both of those are NOT consumer friendly though and really require you to be a “geek” and have a server a dedicated PC set up… 

    When will consumers adopt this stuff?  Once they can turn their TV on and have the internet come up and see ALL the programming they want to watch.  Until then, these will just be niche products… Once one of the cable companies starts offering an internet-based service for a fraction of the cost of traditional cable I predict mass adoption will ensure.  Unfortunately, the greedy TV and movie studios are all trying to fight against this internet revolution (didn’t work out so well for the music companies).  In the end consumers loose..

    My prediction, once DirecTV looses their strong hold on NFL Sunday Ticket, and the NFL is allowed to have their own streaming service like MLB and Hockey already have, accelerated adoption will ensure.

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  10. I agree with Tim. Google have identified rising sentiment coming from news about Apple TV, etc and decided they had to combat this. Unfortunately, people are already doubting them. I would be more than happy to see them prove us all wrong!

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