Google TV Launching In Europe Early 2012: Transcript Of Eric Schmidt's UK Lecture

Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt was the keynote speaker at the Edinburgh International TV Festival as he substituted for Shine Group founder Elisabeth Murdoch. During Friday’s MacTaggart Lecture (transcript below), given for the first time by a television industry outsider, Schmidt said Google  TV plans to launch in Europe early next year, with the UK a top priority. Many more partners are expected to join the fledgling TV service soon, Schmidt said, and the company is “absolutely committed” to its fledgling small tube business which allows viewers to mix web and television content on TV screens via a browser. He said U.S. networks who balked at Google TV earlier this year still aren’t on board, and he hopes the service won’t face a similar problem in Europe. In his keynote, Schmidt also named three trends to watch: mobile, local, and social — a nod to Google’s recent acquisition of Motorola Mobility as well as a desire to personalize TV content and services. “Soon, your typical Internet users won’t be indoors with a PC; they’ll be out and about on their cell phone,” Schmidt said. “Reflecting this, new genres of online content and services are emerging. If content is king, context is its crown. … And if you think all this is exciting, or frightening, remember, this is only the beginning. In technological terms, we’re scarcely at the end of the first act of the Internet age.” Below is the transcript of Schmidt’s speech:

I understand this is the first time the MacTaggart has been given by someone not employed in Television broadcasting or production. I’m not sure whether that means the bar has been raised or lowered, but I’ll do my best!

It’s a huge honour to be invited to speak on such a prestigious occasion, especially as an industry outsider. When he spoke here two years ago, James Murdoch described himself as the crazy relative everyone is embarrassed by. I wonder what he’d call himself now. If James is the family outcast, I’m not sure what that makes me. The geek in the corner?… the alien species?… the Android? Don’t worry though, I promise I’m not a croak-voiced dalek.

Charles Allen called the MacTaggart ‘the longest job application in the industry’. It’s very kind of you to think of me, but I’m still fully committed to Google. All that’s changed is that Larry now has the keys to the Google Tardis. I promise I’ll stop the Dr Who quips soon – although in this case it is pretty apt. We have a private joke at Google that Larry is actually from the future.

I’m especially indebted to Mark Thompson – who gave last year’s lecture – for his tips on what makes a classic MacTaggart. The recipe boils down to anger and arch-villains, impossible proposals and insults. I’m not sure about anger, but I’ll do my best to come up with the rest.

Mark even identified candidates for demonising – usually a choice between the BBC and Murdoch. I must say how refreshing it is that Google isn’t on that list!

But I don’t kid myself – I know some of you have suspicions about Google. Some of you blame us for the havoc wreaked on your business by the Internet. Some accuse us of being irresponsible, uncaring, and worse.

Today I’ll aim to set the record straight on those points, and demonstrate why we can and should be optimistic about Television’s future, if we work together. But first, a little about my industry.

Peter Fincham said this lecture is the closest most TV people get to going to church. Well, I am a tech evangelist from way back, so I’ll take any excuse to preach about the Internet.

Why the Internet matters

In less than 30 years, the Internet has grown from almost nothing to more than 2 billion users. It’s available on Mount Everest, and on the South Pole. Half of adults in the EU use it every day. It has become such a profound part of life that 4 in 5 adults worldwide now regard Internet access as a fundamental human right. (more…)

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