Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt held forth on many things at the MacTaggart lecture to the Edinburgh International TV Festival August 26, including a session in which he regaled reporters with tales of Google TV.
While he acknowledged that Google TV is still a beta product for early adopters, he was enthusiastic about the Web TV platform's future, which includes Google's Android "Honeycomb" software to let users access the service without the typical remote keyboard or other controllers.
This includes a full version of Chrome and applications from Google's Android Market.
Schmidt apparently said Google is inking U.K. broadcasters as part of its Google TV launch in Europe next year. Expect initial U.S. launch partners Logitech and Sony to be joined by many more manufacturers, he said.
Moreover, he apparently said the product would become a household standard in many TVs over the next five years. Schmidt noted:
"Virtually all the television manufacturers on their very high end will eventually adopt Google TV... or perhaps one of the competitors that will emerge. We know this space exists. The issue is getting that started, getting the applications built and so forth, and that's taken quite a while."
Some extreme optimism, tempered by some serious reality. As in, Google TV isn't faring well, and Apple Television may come and steal its lunch pail.
As a regular Google TV user, here is why I'm not particularly bullish on Google TV, which I received last Christmas.
- Logitech then slashed the price of its Revue boxes by one-third to $99, a relative bargain. What happened? Nothing, as far as I can tell. No one at Best Buy or anywhere else raved about how the product was flying off the shelves. Conversely, HP cut its $500 TouchPad to $99 and they sold out super fast in spots.
- The Netflix app is buggy, failing to launch every time. It's not a WiFi issue -- My U-Verse is solid. And Amazon Instant Video and YouTube Leanback work well enough. But Netflix is a primary use-case for Google TV, so failure there is a big FAIL
- No Honeycomb update yet for the platform. Google pumps out upgrades a couple times a year for its phones. We've been stuck on the Android 2.1 version of Google TV, with the exception of some incremental, largely cosmetic upgrades.
- Google just isn't selling it. Clearly, that was Schmidt's job in Edinburgh last week. Let's see how it pans out.
- There is no proven market for Web TV. Not 10 years ago, not five years ago. Not now.
I dearly hope I'm wrong. No one likes to own a dead-end product, even if it was a gift.