Google TV will be launched in Europe early next year, despite its rocky start in the U.S., company Chairman Eric Schmidt told an audience in Edinburgh, Scotland, last night.
Delivering the keynote MacTaggart Lecture at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International TV Festival, one of Britain's premier television industry events, Schmidt sought to reassure broadcasters, according to a Reuters report on the speech.
"We seek to support the content industry by providing an open platform for the next generation of TV to evolve, the same way Android is an open platform for the next generation of mobile," Schmidt said. "We expect Google TV to launch in Europe early next year, and of course the U.K. will be among the top priorities."
Google TV is a software platform that interacts with a user's TV set, along with his or her Internet, cable, and/or satellite hookup to bring a combined TV-Web-app experience to conventional televisions. Those with Google TV can, for instance, use their smartphone as a remote control, search the Internet on their TVs while watching a show, and create a home page on their sets that looks much like an iPhone-style smartphone's home screen but includes launch icons for apps and TV channels both.
The product has struggled since its launch in the U.S., in part because major broadcasters are suspicious of Google's intentions and have blocked access to their programming. The history of TV is filled with entities that made a killing after finding a new way to distribute content and refusing to fairly compensate the content makers, industry sources told CNET's Greg Sandoval late last year. The industry fears Google could become yet another example. And the fact that the company has remained mum on how it plans to profit from Google TV has done little to assuage those concerns.
Last May, Google said it had no plans for the product beyond the United States.
During the lecture, Schmidt also addressed the British government's recent flirtation with the idea of temporarily switching off Internet services as a way of controlling the use of social media by rioters.
"The fact of the matter is whatever the problem was...whatever the underlying problem was, the Internet is a reflection of that problem. But turning on and off the Internet is not going to fix it," the Daily Telegraph quoted Schmidt as saying. "You better fix whatever the underlying problem was."