Thoughts on the Google CEO swap

The tech world got one heck of a surprise Thursday afternoon when long-time Google CEO Eric Schmidt announced he would be ceding the position to company co-founder and president of products Larry Page. Google-chiefs

It’s a move that tech analysts are trying to piece together to determine what it will mean for the future of the quickly expanding company. But what, if anything, does it mean for the entertainment industry?

Schmidt, who will remain as chairman and an advisor, has held the reins at the search giant for 10 years now. He classifies the move as something meant to simplify the management structure.

Rather than running the day to day, he says in a blog post, he will focus “on the deals, partnerships, customers and broader business relationships, government outreach and technology thought leadership that are increasingly important given Google’s global reach.”

Left unanswered in that statement is whether Schmidt will be a part of the ongoing talks with content providers surrounding Google TV. All the major networks, as well as Hulu, Viacom and more, of course, have blocked the service – removing a lot of the appeal it originally had for consumers.

Part of the reason for that is the company simply didn’t talk with the content providers before launching the product.

“Google is a company that’s based on engineering, but doesn’t understand human passions,” said James McQuivey, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research late last year. “If they had done the business sensible thing, they would have called the content providers before the reveal and say: ‘We want to announce this. We want your cooperation. Here’s how we think you can make money on it. Let’s talk.’ As far as I know, those conversations never happened.”

Schmidt’s reduced role at the company could help clear the slate slightly and open the door for real negotiations with content providers to commence. Similarly, it could open the door to resume talks with television manufacturers. (Several were said to have been planning announcements tied to the service at CES, but changed their minds as troubles mounted.)

Google, though, is a much bigger beast than just Google TV (and other content interaction site YouTube). The company is eagerly eyeing expansions into social media and the gaming space – and as Google TV flounders, one has to wonder how high it is on the company’s priority list these days.

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