Google's Schmidt: Devices, apps need to be friends

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt told an audience at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that the future of technology will be getting all the electronics in our lives to friend each other.

Schmidt, speaking before a standing-room-only crowd at the show in Las Vegas Tuesday afternoon, said devices aren’t living up to their full potential unless they’re connected. That ecosystem includes devices, operating systems, applications and content.

“Computing devices without a network are lonely,” he said. “You really want to be able to walk into your house and, through your Android device, have all the devices in your house adjust because you’ve walked in. The TV should know that you’ve come in and turn on to your favorite show.”

And the growth of that digital ecosystem is the future that Schmidt envisions.

“Think of these as peer-to-peer devices that talk to each other,” he added. “It should become seamless.”

Schmidt was speaking at the “What’s Next in Consumer Electronics” event at the show. He was followed by Tim Baxter, president of sales and operations for Samsung of America, which is a major partner with Google in the smartphone and Google TV markets.

Baxter said the ecosystem is the glue that makes the different parts—devices, software, content—relevant.

“The average consumer has about 30 consumer electronics devices in their home, but very few of them are connected to each other,” he added. “The expectation is to bring that together in seamless and relevant ways.”

Despite his position with one of the world’s biggest technology companies, Schmidt said he is still surprised that Wi-Fi is used to control the lighting in some homes. “There’s a new generation of devices being shown here at CES that hook up with your other Wi-Fi devices and away you go,” he added. “The standalone device is less helpful without its ecosystem.”

Schmidt also said he thinks people will be spending more time in their living rooms thanks to Google TV.

“Google TV is doing really well,” he said. “We have a whole bunch of additional partners coming. It’s the only offering I know of that fully integrates the television experience and the browsing experience. We’ve argued quite strongly that people will watch more television because of Google TV. They won’t have to go anywhere else. They won’t go to another screen.”

And users should expect to see Google products more closely integrated than they’ve been in the past. That’s not surprising, since Google CEO Larry Page said last fall that he is looking to integrate Google+ into enough other Google products and services to “transform the entire Google experience.”

“Larry as CEO has been much, much more focused on solving this [integration] problem than I was,” said Schmidt on Tuesday. “Historically, Google has been a set of, not fiefdoms, but there was a slightly different feeling to everything. The sum of Google a year ago to today — there’s a very big difference. You’ll see things much more integrated.”

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