On Friday evening (Aug 26) Google boss Eric Schmidt delivered the annual MacTaggart lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival. He confirmed that Google TV would launch in Europe early next year with the UK “among the top priorities”.
One cautionary comment came from Stewart Purvis, a former CEO at ITN and now professor of TV journalism at London’s City University, who told journalists that nobody needed lectures about the Internet’s impact. “Despite the web, the viewing of programmes on television remains robust.”
Another, perhaps more tangible, note from Nigel Walley at Decipher Media Consultants helps balance some of the hype which currently surrounds Google’s TV promised offering. His comments apply especially to European viewers who have some sort of “catch-up” TV/broadband service. Walley says the “frenzy” that surrounds Google TV is mired in miscommunication and misperception, adding that there are some 10 million viewers in the UK, who are already able to do exactly what Google TV promises: “There is very little new and innovative in Google TV.”
“The first thing to state is that, unless you buy an integrated TV with Google TV built in (and we haven’t seen any of those announced) Google TV will be an ‘add-on’ to any set top box you use, not a replacement. (For info: when you get it out of the box, it asks you which STB you want to use it with and goes off to find the right EPG data). So, really it is just designed as an ‘add-on’ rich-media environment for anyone using a basic Freeview or Freesat box (one of the ones that doesn’t have Internet connectivity). Consumers with an old ‘ free’ box, who wake up to the idea of havingIinternet stuff on their TV, will actually have a choice of adding GoogleTV as another set top box alongside their existing one, or buying one of the new DTT boxes which are arriving that do the same job (Fetch, YouView, 3View), or a connected TV.”
Walley argues that Google TV’s flaws “will outweigh its benefits”. He adds: “The first big flaw in Google TV is its inability to integrate the web sites it accesses with broadcast channels. Broadcast and web are treated as fundamentally separate content types, with no links between them. This flies in the face of all the development work being pioneered by YouView, Virgin TiVo, SkyAnytime+ and Freesat to integrate the two into a seamless content environment. These ‘integrated’ platforms let you jump to VOD from the EPG, from within programmes, and let you search for VOD and broadcast programmes together, and then jump into them directly from the search results. Google TV can’t do this. (I am still not sure how it deals with PVR capability). It shows that Google is only paying lip service to broadcast, not working with it. (Although at least they are not ignoring it completely like Apple TV).”
“Without a radical overhaul and the kind or breakthrough market redefinition that only Apple seem good at, Google TV feels like something that young, new media literate people will like for the quirkiness of it, but not something designed for mass roll out.”