By Jared Newman | Monday, June 13, 2011 at 5:26 pm
I don’t know whether Comcast is afraid of Internet-connected TVs and set-top boxes, but that’s the way the cable company’s plans for Skype support look from here.
Comcast will bring Skype to customers on a trial basis in the coming months, All Things Digital’s Peter Kafka reports. The service will require an adaptor box, a high-quality video camera and special remote control that allows text input. It’s not clear how much the service will cost, if anything, and whether it’ll be available to cable customers, Internet subscribers or both. As Kafka notes, it’s certainly possible that Comcast could give the service away to platinum cable subscribers as a “please don’t cut the cord” incentive.
Whatever the service looks like when it goes live, it won’t be the first example of Skype on televisions. Skype is already available on several connected TVs from Panasonic and Samsung, and is coming to TVs from Vizio and Sony. Blu-ray players from Sony and Panasonic may also support Skype in the future, and Microsoft plans to build the service into the Xbox 360 once the company’s acquisition of Skype goes through. So although Skype doesn’t have the ubiquity of, say, Netflix, Comcast is playing a bit of catch-up.
Anyway, the fact that Comcast will dabble in web-based services is kind of a big deal. The company obviously sees potential in big-screen video chat, and wants to get on board before customers stray to connected TVs and set-top boxes, which are steadily becoming more viable options for cord-cutters. If subscribers can get everything they need from the cable company, they’ll have less of a reason to experiment with alternatives.
Or maybe I’m reading too much into this. We’ll know for sure if Comcast starts integrating Facebook and Twitter into its cable boxes. Oh wait.