Schmidt Reckons Most TVs Will Have Google TV By Mid-2012

What with self-driving cars and such, Eric Schmidt is not averse to some blue-sky thinking. But one new prediction may be a moonshot too far.

“By the summer of 2012, the majority of the televisions you see in stores will have Google (NSDQ: GOOG) TV embedded in it,” Schmidt said on stage at the Le Web conference.

The whole connected TV space will explode in 2012, as more new TVs ship with internet connectivity, bringing new content services to the living room. The on-screen gateway to that room is up for grabs.

So far, Google TV has shipped, somewhat experimentally and not wildly successfully, on just a Logitech box and a Sony (NYSE: SNE) TV.

Home electronics makers themselves look well placed. Samsung, LG (SEO: 066570), Panasonic and their ilk, including Sony, are already preferring to ship their own smart TV interfaces with their TVs. Samsung TV already has almost 1,000 apps for its Smart TV system.

Convincing any of the manufacturers to adopt Google TV over their own varieties looks way more difficult than it has been in the mobile sector. And that’s not even accounting for how, in many countries, TV is dominated by several big platforms and pay-TV vendors in a way mobile is not.

Schmidt, whose latest Android Ice Cream Sandwich variant is slick, is bullish because he thinks Google TV, which is essentially Android, will replicate the operating system’s mobile success. Told, on stage, that iPhone has a mobile lead, Schmidt retorted, rhetorically…

“What kind of lead? Android is ahead of the iPhone now – by unit volume, with ICS features, prices are lower, with more vendors, more pricepoints – do I need to continue the list? It’s free.”

Though Schmidt talked incessantly about competition being good, his defensive response to a suggestion that Google+ is a Facebook imitator ran contrary to this.

One company comes to define a certain area – you’re better off trying to find something new that’s differentiated,” Schmidt said on that topic. “That’s what we’re trying to do with Google+, with many more products to come.”

Asked from the floor why the quality of Android’s app line-up pales against iOS’ despite Android’s shipment win and despite its apps catching up by volume, Schmidt said:

Six months from now, you’ll say the opposite. Ultimately, application vendors are driven by volume. The volume is favoured by the open approach Google is taking. Whether you like ICS or not, you will want to develop for that platform, perhaps even first.”

To summarise – in six months’ time, Android will be trumping iOS for apps and will be the dominant smart TV platform, Schmidt suggested.