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Google CEO Says Web TV Service to Be Offered Worldwide in 2011

Google Inc. Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt
Google Inc. Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt, seen here, said, “You should expect that other TV manufacturers would love to have this product. It’s free.” Photographer: Michele Tantussi/Bloomberg

Google Inc. Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt said the company plans to extend its Web television service from U.S. viewers to global consumers in 2011.

Google has an agreement with Sony Corp. to launch Web TV in the U.S. this fall, while Samsung Electronics Co., the world’s largest television manufacturer, said today it may make sets run by Google’s software to compete with Sony and Apple Inc. in the market for TVs that access movies, shows and games online. Schmidt declined to say which other manufacturers will integrate Google Web TV into their televisions.

“We will wait for them to make their announcements,” Schmidt said at a press briefing at the IFA consumer electronics conference in Berlin. “You should expect that other TV manufacturers would love to have this product. It’s free.”

Google, owner of the world’s most popular search engine, has sought to expand beyond the Web, spearheading the Android operating system for mobile phones and announcing Google TV this year. Offering services to users on new devices may help the company lessen its dependence on search advertising, which accounts for the bulk of its revenue.

Google’s software for television will work with Intel Corp. chips in products by Sony and Logitech International SA, the Mountain View, California-based company said in May. The service will include video-on-demand products from Inc., Netflix Inc. and Hulu, a video site partly owned by Walt Disney Co..

Advertising Money

“There are no plans to monetize Google Web TV,” Brittany Bohnet, a product marketing representative at Google, said today. Google will continue to make money from advertising that appears in the browser, as is the case when consumers use the search engine on a computer or mobile phone. It will not charge manufacturers to use the software for Google Web TV, nor will it charge content providers that make their material available.

“Google TV pulls together a list of results from your TV line-up and free stuff on the Web, and additional on-demand video from for instance Amazon, on demand,” Bohnet said. Some content will be free and some will generate a charge, she said.

Of the 60,000 applications that are available for mobile phones running on the Android operating system, “thousands” will work on TV, she said. There will be applications designed specifically for television use.

Google has declined 25 percent in Nasdaq trading in New York this year. The stock fell 0.8 percent to $466.41 a share as of 10:55 a.m. New York time.

Privacy Concerns

At the Berlin conference, Schmidt addressed the company’s plans to take photos of homes and streets in Germany, which has met with resistance.

“We end up in the middle of these debates: about privacy, about Street View,” Schmidt said. “The debate is healthy. We encounter this scrutiny and we participate and accept it very much,” the CEO said.

German citizens will benefit from Street View, he said. “It’s a powerful product from an end-user perspective.”

Ilse Aigner, the country’s minister for consumer protection, in August asked the company to do more to weigh requests from citizens wishing to have their homes blocked from the service.

Regulators in the U.S., Spain, France Italy, and the Czech Republic have probed the company for details around Google Street View. Google said in May that it inadvertently collected information from open wireless networks.

Schmidt said he was “quite angry” about the collection of information and said it was “one engineer that did that.”

“Once we detected it, we knew it wasn’t authorized, we had an internal review and we notified the authorities,” he said.

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