back to article Google dumps TV flop on UK

Be still, beating hearts! The expensive flop that embodies Google's difficulties in working with the media industries is coming to the UK. Eric Schmidt is expected to make the announcement at the annual Edinburgh TV festival that a consumer product will launch within the next six months. In the United States, where free-to-air …


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  1. ElNumbre

    Dr Toolittle and his assistant nurse Tulate.

    I was excitied about Google TV when it first appeared, but I think its missed the boat. Most people that want to watch Youtube on their telly will have found a solution already - for me, its XBMC on a silent PC.

    Anyone that wants to watch telly (and also record it) will have invested in a generic digital tv + system in its many guises, or built their own.

    And if they want the two - chances are they're using Windows Media Centre or MythTV or one of the existing solutions that brings a 'desktop' to the TV screen. The reason I ruled out Apple TV (the new little black box version) is because I'm not in the iCrowd so it limited what I could use it for. Limited format support and no live TV - Meh. And the reason I'm not particularly enamoured at the prospect of YouCanvaroo is that outside of the current partners, others are not likely to get much of a look-in, other than maybe in a bit of a rubbish web browser (assuming it supports the required plugin to show whatever content you might want to watch).

    Unless big G somehow makes a one-solution box that will allow pre-recorded content from every UK broadcaster (even the awkward ones like Sky), plus live telly from whichever souce you desire, plus be able to take whatever media on a physical disk to be shown - via a sensible interface, this will fail like a boss. Except if it costs about £3 to buy.

    1. Danny 14


      unless it comes as an xbmc video plugin then i'll skip it.

  2. Tim Parker

    Slow news day..

    ..must be. First of all some Chicken Little nonsense from Gavin Clarke about the Linux kernel and now this - one of the longer reviews of something that doesn't exist yet i've read recently... wasn't the first paragraph sufficient ?

    It may well be the same piece of crap that launched in the US - I don't know (do you ?) - but why don't we wait until someone's actually got their hands on it before giving it a similar, in-depth slating.

    Unless, of course, you have some more information to share ?

  3. Delbert

    Moving cursor on screen?

    Moving a cursor about on screen is a nonstarter? there speaks a man that obviously has not experienced the wonders of a digital set or cable TV . When you have used clunky equivalents of tabbing to navigate menus one step at a time then surely a joystick or track ball has to be an improvement, the facility is already there on many remote controls with the navigation jog button .

    Just a question of getting the software to default cursor movement to the buttons or hot areas of the screen- well its not rocket science is it?

    1. Danny 14
      Thumb Down

      not really

      that just spats of a bad UI. having a pointer to fix a bad UI is exactly why windows mobile 6.1 was utter shite.

  4. Darren Forster

    Let's have decent broadband first...

    Yet another piece of useless junk for us to add to our collection of things that all want to take over our broadband connection.

    Has Google noticed that in the UK we don't have the same super quality broadband quality that is enjoyed by American's?

    Already most places that BT calls "remote" (although I don't know how BT can believe the whole of Shropshire as "remote") are struggling with a 2mbps line, and it's a joke.

    My internet connection here with Plus Net is so slow it couldn't even play a full song from Grooveshark this morning without breaking it up every 10 seconds, how's that going to cope if we add a Google TV set to the equation.

    Maybe Google might do better if they set up their own cable firm in the UK and used it's money to supply super fast broadband to areas that need it, instead of investing in some crummy TV system that half of the UK can't use.

    1. Davidoff

      US super quality broadband

      "Has Google noticed that in the UK we don't have the same super quality broadband quality that is enjoyed by American's?"

      I'm not sure on which planet you're living on but here on planet Earth broadband in the US is a far stretch from being 'super quality'. Unless you live in a few advantaged areas 'broadband' often means getting something less than 2Mbps, down to 384 kbps. Additionally, thanks to the telecommunications and cable tv oligopol you often don't even have a choice between providers but you're stuck paying for a 6Mbps line with 768kbpsor less real world throughput. That means if you can get any broadband service, that is. Wide parts of the country are still dependent on analogue modems.

      Most Brits don't really appreciate what they have. A wide selection of broadband providers with tons of contracting options to fit most requirements is something Americans can only dream of.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        @davidoff: Absolutely correct. Even in the capital city of USofA, there's only one provider you can choose from - Comcast. Prices are about 100% more expensive and quality 50% worse than in UK.

    2. RichyS
      Thumb Down


      I went to school in Shropshire. It's remote.

  5. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    But is it hackable?

    If it eventually becomes so then it may turn out to be an absolute blinder of a platform at a ridiculously cheap price.

    I'm not interested in watching YouTube videos on my TV nor any over the internet streaming but I can think of more local streaming/player uses or even certain Apps that would suit such a thing perfectly.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      No Need

      Get a cheap PC (Zotac z-box for example) and shove XBMC - fully usably pc with and excellent media play (and also plugin options if you do want twitter/youtube etc!)

  6. Armando 123

    Don't get it

    I think Google's lost the plot.

  7. Alan Denman


    6 months is enough time to get the full Android on it.

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: Android

      But Android is designed for touchscreen devices. Will it work with a TV & Remote?

      The current situation is that Android is excellent on phones, not so good on fondleslabs and absolutely useless on laptops.

      1. Graham Dawson Silver badge


        I wouldn't say that.Honeycomb 3.2 is actually very good at being a laptop OS on my eee pad. It even recognises mouse-over events in the browser.

        Were it possible, I'd be tempted to chuck a copy on my old toshiba just to see if it worked. I expect it might, but until google opens up the relevant bits again it's unlikely.

  8. Robert E A Harvey
    Thumb Down

    why strange?

    >Strangely enough, FreeView is along the right lines

    What on earth can be considered strange about terrestrial, established, mass-market, tv channels being good at content?

    Has this man been living under a rock?

  9. HaplessPoet

    And yet...

    He thinks our educational system is holding us back in the digital media area?

    High Praise indeed!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    mythtv - commercial options?

    I'm kinda wondering why no company has jumped onto mythtv to offer a decent home media box that's marketed to a wide audience.

    Boxee has sort of tried to get into a commercial space, but it's still not really there - there's no recording option.

    I'm coming from the angle of having built my own digibox effort - mythtv with boxee - record, stream, schedule - but on steroids. Totally networked, schedule via a browser if you want.

    What the public want, as far as I'm concerned, is streaming AND recording. Most of the digital efforts of the Apple TV ilk have no recording capability. That means you need another device to do that for you. It gets complicated - too complicated.

    It all needs to be done on one simple box, hook up via HDMI, wireless network, integrated.

    A lot of people just don't have the broadband for an 'on demand' service and also want the freedom to record anything, anytime for later viewing.

    I think what the big media companies are trying to do, is to phase out recording of content, so that they retain control, which means revenue streams. They are doing this by putting barriers in the way of commercial digibox offerings.

    The public just don't want that.

    1. A J Stiles

      Why not?

      "[W]hy [has] no company has jumped onto mythtv to offer a decent home media box that's marketed to a wide audience[?]"

      Because there's s*d-all money to be made in it, is why not. All the important software except the video drivers is GPLed, so the only way you can earn is by putting a markup on the hardware. Which people will then just buy cheaper, from wherever you're buying it from.

  11. David Simpson 1


    "In the United States, where free-to-air television is of low quality,"

    Have you watched UK TV ? It is utter crap.

    1. Mike Flugennock

      re: free-to-air UK TV

      " 'In the United States, where free-to-air television is of low quality,'

      Have you watched UK TV ? It is utter crap."


      I can't really comment on UK TV, as we only get the good stuff over here, but I can say that as crappy as TV may be over there, we here in the Colonies have crappy TV down to a fine science... especially "news". You should've seen the local "coverage" of the earthquake here in DC; we were shook hard for about ten seconds, but no significant damage and no casualties -- but that didn't stop every local channel in DC from spending half the goddamn' day interviewing people on the street for their "where were you" stories.

      1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

        Sorry, no.

        TV here is just as crappy as TV there. You only get the bits considered to be the very best, we get the full flavour shite in every shade from white to brown to that weird and disturbing ruddy-black stuff that you should probably go and see the doctor about.

        Our news is the same as yours too. Especially the BBC, who have even abandoned vox pops in favour of reporters interviewing each other in nice safe studios.

        What I'm trying to say is, your tv isn't uniquely awful. Sorry.

    2. Roger Varley


      You clearly haven't spent much time watching TV abroad. Most other countries, in terms of TV programming, have completely redefined the word "crap" to a point where even "I'm a big brother on ice get me out of the jungle" looks like award winning stuff.

      1. Mike Flugennock

        re: UK crap TV vs. US crap TV

        Point well taken, but, still... only here in the good old USA do they have "Jersey Shore". And, could any network in the UK come up with a talk-show comedian as lame as Jay Leno?

        Still... no TV programming big-shot in the States could have come up with the Trololo Guy.

        1. David Dawson

          Jay Leno

          He's a comedian? I never realised... :-/

          I'm sat in shock.

          My contribution to the debate though - Jeremy Kyle

          Prize tool of the airwaves. lock a bunch of people with nothing better to do in a bear pit of a studio and whip them into a righteous frenzy before sending them out to loot and lynch in equal measure.

          Well, thats certainly how it seems whenever I see it....

          My coats the one with the smug superiority in the pocket ...

  12. Diginerd

    Google Quietly bought SageTV recently...

    Which is "interesting" given what it's core is capable of.

    At first glance it looks like yet another media center app, and a somewhat clunky ui.

    Under the covers it's very nifty and flexible.

    Think of it as all the best bits of XBMC (sage's default Ui is based on an xbmc theme, has the library functions, and very similar approach overall), MythTV (many front ends hanging from a backed), TiVO (intelligent recording / predictive recording if disk is free and nothing is explicitly scheduled), recording HDTV and streaming it to "clients" (1080i/720p), Place Shifting (thin clients on mobile devices to your own private system), and a whole bunch more.

    sageTV is also very DVB friendly and multi lingual support is excellent thanks to a strong following outside us borders.

    No idea wtf The Cf is planning on doing with it though as it's not very "Cloudy"

  13. DrXym Silver badge

    The most important thing for Google TV

    Is to be an excellent media player with services on top and costing little more than a vanilla player. It's nice'n'all if you can access YouTube or whatever from a STB but I suspect most people would find the box useless if the basics are done wrong. I expect most people would not be plonking down 2-3x the cost of the vanilla box either. I'd add that Roku players which offer an overlapping feature set cost < $100. That's the price point it needs to aim for or less. Google can make money from ads, sponsorship and all the rest.

    The second issue for GTV is that it's like some ginger stepchild to Android. It is android but it isn't android. Developing apps for the device is a pain. It looks like Google realise this too and are upgrading it to be an Android 3.x device. Perhaps that will make it nicer to work with and ensure more apps which in turn will make it more useful as a device.

  14. The Original Steve


    Was excited about this when it was launched in the US but after looking into it you've got to ask -why bother?

    Just spent £400 on a reasonable silent media center PC (4Gb RAM, Baby SSD, 1Tb silent HD, i3 and blu-ray drive plus Radeon HD card).

    That'll do me nicely for Freeview+, Internet access, word processing, remote access to work, light gaming, blu-ray, DVD and internet video.

    Unless Google up their game and launch a unit that does at least half of that for under £100 why look elsewhere?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Integrated TV

    Matt 89 has it right.

    The present standard of domestic TV functionality is abysmal. I've recently installed 3 new televisions. All 3 use different interfaces to determine if you watch DTV, analogue TV or some other source. One has a record function. another a pause function. There is no correlation in the way in which they are operated. If Apple want a new project, they should concentrate on producing a 4 x 3 screen TV with an intuitive integrated interface. The situation now seems to be so bad that when you buy a new product, the instruction manual is:-

    a) Not present, or on a DVD which requires that the customer has a computer, and frequently,

    b) Wrong ie not for the purchased product, and is always

    c)Utterly inadequate in instructing how to use the product.

    The list goes on. Everything uses different control codes. It took me 4 hours yesterday to reprogram 3 remote controls. Two were identical and used the same code number, but one of them had the volume control operation reversed. The 4th remote which she uses was just not programmable for another old TV, but it had worked fine for the even older one which went to the tip.

    The latest TV has a LAN connection. What for I've no idea. Nor has anybody else who's looked it up on the internet. I know it's going to take a day of my time to sort it out. I won't go into the vagaries of hard disc recorders, or set top boxes. It really makes you appreciate computers, where there are a few standards.

    The consumer needs to be supplied with products which just work out of the box, as Apple seem to do (apart from imail!). This is going to require standards. Where are they coming from?

    1. Danny 14


      sony have remote parity, then again I suppose that is why you pay a premium.

  16. Microphage

    Google can't work with the media?

    > Be still, beating hearts! The expensive flop that embodies Google's difficulties in working with the media industries is coming to the UK ..

    "Google TV [has] been blocked by the major U.S. networks since its launch in the United States in October".

    "On Saturday, he said Google had not yet resolved its differences with U.S. networks ABC, NBC and CBS, and hoped the company would not encounter similar problems for its British launch".

    I figure the most blockage will come from the Murdoch empire, similar to the opposition to iPlayer and Project Kangaroo.

  17. Microphage

    Eric Schmidt’s Edinburgh Festival Keynote: Full Transcript

    'Delivering the prestigious MacTaggart Lecture at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt sought to assure broadcasters:

    “Google seeks to be your partner, not your foe.” But he warned them:

    “Listen to the entrepreneurs, not the lawyers, if you want to revitalise your business.”`

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    £400 PC

    "Just spent £400 on a reasonable silent media center PC (4Gb RAM, Baby SSD, 1Tb silent HD, i3 and blu-ray drive plus Radeon HD card)."

    I want one at that price - can you post a link / let me know where ? MacMini may be really silent buy it's more expensive and there is no BluRay...and I'm not sure I could buy a FreeviewHD card for it.

  19. Anonymous Coward


    Google will soon have an ability to influence a significant set top box manufacturer and drive their product strategy.

    A new Motorola device - build in 2 Freeview HD tuners, 2 FreeSat tuners, a CI slot, a hughe silent HDD. People can store their broadcast TV content on this Google device, it'll be indexed - searchable throughout the house for as long as the owner wants (not as dictated by iPlayer or YouView).

    The TV - well, you might want to be interrupted by Facebook notifications, or Twitter, or Skype. Personally, I think those are better suited to you iPAD as my wife / kids won't appreciate Dr Who being interrupted by these annoyances.

    Most of the modern TVs facilitate access to YouTube, Picasa etc. I think just additional access to a super Google/Motorola hub will be enough for me.

    One day, when you can archive your BluRay content and DVD media, you'll be able to access everything on your home network via a super hub. Google have the indexing / search capability and with Motorola can build whatever they like.

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