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Comcast embraces Skype and only Skype for TV to TV chats

The cable company that once said that it would squash Skype, plans to partner with it now that Microsoft has bought the company, and bring Skype servi


Published: 16 June, 2011


The cable company that once said that it would squash Skype, plans to partner with it now that Microsoft has bought the company, and bring Skype services to Comcast cable homes through the TV set. The fact that now Skype can offer video calling is perhaps what has changed Comcast’s mind and they can see themselves offering TV to TV, living room to living room communication throughout their 23 million cable homes. Comcast made those comments about squashing Skype 5 years ago when it tried to introduce its own home to home IP voice service similar to Skype, which has since been discontinued.

Comcast said that it had entered a strategic partnership with Skype so its customers can experience widescreen HD video calling which it says is immersive and natural.

The current trend is for people to talk to one another in the US using different devices from the TV, when they are watching TV – usually using Facebook or Twitter. Comcast is trying to move the experience to the TV set, and use Skype IM to comment on what they are watching, but also adding the attraction (if it is that) of video calling. Comcast might be surprised to see that not many people are comfortable with a HD picture of themselves being projected into a remote living room. The porn industry may like it, but normal users may not.

“Our unique relationship with Skype will not only 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.”

We think people will want to make their own choices in how they communicate and not have it dictated to them by their pay TV company. The system will allow people to import friends to their address book from Facebook, Outlook, Gmail and a smartphone contact list, and find them on Skype.

This service will be delivered through a rented adaptor box and high-quality video camera, and a specially designed remote control which caters for text input. The other calling party just needs Skype.

Some features will be added to the Comcast’s Xfinity Mobile app to accommodate Skype too. Customer trials will start in the coming months. We think this may be a tiny bit misguided, but let’s see what the trials throw up.


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