June 15, 2011

Comcast Adding Skype Calling Through TV Sets

US cable provider Comcast has announced plans with Skype to add video chat through high-definition televisions, AFP is reporting.

"TV has evolved into a social experience, and Comcast and Skype will be delivering a product that personalizes the TV experience even more," said Comcast president Neil Smit.

"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," he added.

Comcast wants people to have the ability to make low-cost internet video calls on "the biggest screen in the house", while watching big televised events or celebrating special occasions.

Comcast customers will be able to rent a Skype kit which includes a webcam and an adapter that plugs into the TV. Subscribers will get notifications of incoming calls on their TV screen and will be able to answer with full-screen video or in a separate window while continuing to watch TV uninterrupted.

"We can bring video calling to the heart of the home, allowing people to share life's experiences both big and small," said Skype chief executive Tony Bates.

Skype is one of the top applications on smartphones, and has some 170 million users who will now be able to "Skype" using Windows-powered phones or even Xbox game consoles.

"Together we will create the future of real-time communications so people can easily stay connected to family, friends, clients and colleagues anywhere in the world," Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer explained.

The partnership with Comcast arrives soon after Microsoft purchased Skype earlier this year for $8.5 billion dollars. The acquisition is still subject to regulatory approvals which are expected to be granted this year.

"At Microsoft we see tremendous opportunity to bring together what people want all on a single screen," Ballmer said. "We are committed to optimize Skype for TV with Xbox and Kinect, for the phone and for the PC."

The voice and video service will become a new business division within Microsoft with Skype CEO Bates assuming the title of president of the Microsoft Skype Division and reporting directly to Ballmer.

Skype was founded in 2003 and acquired by online auction site eBay in September 2005. Skype was then sold to the investment group led by Silver Lake in November 2009 for $2.75 billion.


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