Comcast invites Skype into its cable boxes, mobile apps
The latest announcement at the 2011 Cable Show comes from the seemingly unlikely pairing of Comcast and Skype, who have arranged to enable video calls through the cable box. All it takes is a camera, adapter and ‘specially-designed remote’ to turn HDMI-equipped Comcast boxes into Skype-on-TV machines when they start trials in the next few months. Senior Comcast VP Cathy Avgiris tells theSeattle Times that video will max out at 720p to start but will be ugraded to 1080p eventually. The tie-in will also means Skype features for the Comcast Xfinity apps on tablets and phones, but according to Avgiris it won’t “necessarily be limited to triple-play” (TV, phone and internet) customers only. Skype has already partnered with several TV manufacturers for HD calling in the living room, but working through cable boxes means a much greater prospective installed base. Beyond the still-unanswered questions of pricing and release dates, we’ve already seen enough Cable Show demos that didn’t amount to much (*cough* tru2way) so this will goes on the shelf with the others until it’s spotted in the wild. Press release after the break.
COMCAST AND SKYPE ANNOUNCE AGREEMENT TO BRING A NEW HD VIDEO CALLING EXPERIENCE TO THE TELEVISION
Partnership Will Enable Comcast Customers To Bring Family And Friends Together Via Clear, Widescreen Skype Video Calls Using Their Existing HD Television and Broadband Connection
PHILADELPHIA and LUXEMBOURG – June 14, 2011 – Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Skype today announced that the companies have entered into a strategic partnership that
will enable Comcast customers to communicate with family and friends through HD video calling on their television. They will soon be able to make and receive Skype video calls from their television, whether
their friends and family use Skype on their home TVs, PCs, compatible smartphones or tablets.
Through this arrangement, Comcast customers will be able to experience widescreen HD video calling that is immersive and natural. With Skype, they can share in the excitement of a big game,
a birthday party or holiday, a bedtime story, or a casual conversation with loved ones, and have the ability to communicate with hundreds of millions of Skype users across the globe. As real-time video
communication becomes a more integral part of the way people connect, Skype and Comcast will bring a simple, affordable, high-quality video calling experience to millions of homes.
“Our unique relationship with Skype not only will change how our customers interact with their TV, but also will create new and meaningful ways to bring our customers closer to the people they care about,”
said Neil Smit, President, Comcast Cable. “TV has evolved into a social experience, and Comcast and Skype will be delivering a product that personalizes the TV experience even more, and brings friends and
family together through the biggest screen in their homes.”
Tony Bates, CEO, Skype, said, “We are pleased to announce this partnership with Comcast. By combining Comcast’s broad living room reach with Skype’s innovative communications platform and
worldwide community of users, we can bring video calling into the heart of the home allowing people to share life’s experiences both big and small.”
Here are a few things customers will be able to do through this offering:
• Make and receive Skype video and audio calls, or send instant messages via Skype on a television while watching their favorite TV show at the same time, and accept incoming calls
during a TV show with the help of Caller ID.
• Make and receive video and audio calls, or send instant messages via Skype on a compatible mobile phone or tablet.
• Import friends to their address book from their Facebook, Outlook, Gmail and smartphone contact lists, find them on Skype and see when contacts are online and available to talk.
This service will be delivered on the Comcast customer’s HDTV through an adaptor box, a high-quality video camera, and a specially designed remote control that enables customers to text on Skype as well
as control their television. The other calling party does not need any special equipment beyond what is needed to use Skype.
In addition, customers will be able to access mobile features conveniently through Comcast’s Xfinity Mobile app, and continue to enjoy conversations by switching from one compatible device (e.g.,
smartphone, tablet or television) to another.
Customer trials for this offering will begin in the coming months, and further product details will be made available later this year.