Comcast and Skype today announced that the companies have entered into a strategic partnership. The deal means Comcast customers will soon be able to make and receive Skype video calls from their television, whether their friends and family use Skype on their home TVs, PCs, smartphones, or tablets. Trials for the new offering will begin in the coming months, and further product details will be made available later this year.
Skype and Comcast say they aim to bring a simple, affordable, high-quality widescreen HD video calling experience to millions of homes. More specifically, the two are promising the following three features:
- Make and receive Skype video and audio calls, or send instant messages via Skype on a television while watching your 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 your address book from Facebook, Outlook, Gmail and smartphone contact lists, find them on Skype and see when contacts are online and available to talk.
The new Skype service will be delivered through your Comcast HDTV via an adaptor box, a high-quality video camera, and a new remote control that lets you input text on Skype as well as control your television. The other calling party will not need any special equipment beyond what they already use Skype with. Comcast customers will also able to access mobile features through Comcast's Xfinity Mobile app.
"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," Neil Smit, President of Comcast Cable, said 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."
"We are pleased to announce this partnership with Comcast," Skype CEO Tony Bates said in a statement. "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."
Following rumors that Google, Facebook, and Microsoft were all interested in the Skype, the software giant swooped in. Last month, Microsoft announced that it was acquiring Skype for $8.5 billion in cash. The deal was approved by the boards of directors of both companies, and is Microsoft's largest acquisition to date.