Skype is a hot commodity. Last month the Luxembourg-based video telecommunications company was earmarked by Microsoft for an $8.5 billion acquisition sometime this year, and now Comcast has announced a new deal that will soon bring an HD video calling option to its subscribers’ TV sets courtesy of Skype.
The deal will grant Comcast customers with HDTVs access to Skype technology through a special adapter box which, in conjunction with a video camera and new remote control, turns their TVs into video conferencing tools. Video call recipients won’t necessarily need to be sitting in the living room; the deal boasts cross-device support with PCs, smartphone and tablets.
The pair promised the following features:
- 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.
“TV has evolved into a social experience, and Comcast and Skype will be delivering a product that personalizes the TV experience even more,” said Neil Smit, President of Comcast Cable.
“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,” added Tony Bates, CEO of Skype.
According to a report by the Associated Press, a “limited version” of Skype will also be offered in combination with Comcast’s phone service package. The new Skype adapter will not be compatible with previous services tied to users’ phone numbers.
While there’s still some doubt whether video calling will supplant normal telephone calling, the fact that big companies are reaching out to more and more users with increasingly varied options certainly makes it possible. (Via The Washington Times)
Are you already a Skype user? Waiting until video calling is a little more convenient? Let us know what you think about this new deal and other attempts to make the technology mainstream in the comment section.