Telecom giant Comcast and Skype announced a “strategic partnership” that will enable Comcast cable television customers to make and receive high definition video calls through their TV sets later this year.
According to the press release, bring Skype to the home’s big screen will allow users to better “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.”
“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 Comcast President Neil Smit in a statement. “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.”
Unlike other Skype-TV partnerships, the Comcast deal doesn’t require the use of a fancy and expensive web-enabled television that comes with its own camera and microphone. Instead, Comcast will supply the gizmos necessary for Skype video calls in the form of special “adapter 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.”
This move pushes forward the arduous evolution of the television as more than just a screen for watching shows and movies, and instead an Internet-connected, all-purpose device that the whole family can enjoy. Enabling anyone with an HDTV to connect to Skype through a rented box seems to us the right strategy. Requiring people to purchase expensive equipment that will quickly go out-of-date is no way to jump-start a consumer trend. Making the move cheap and easy is.
Trial offers for the service will start soon, with a full roll-out scheduled for later this year.