Almost a year ago I posted an article about Microsoft purchasing Skype [roughly $8 billion]. I still think that Microsoft only purchased Skype for their customer base, and while I think there still needs to be a standard for video conferencing protocols, the way standards established themselves is by whoever is the most popular; it happened with Zip files, it happened with Internet video and it’s going to happen with Skype.
Yesterday Comcast officially announced that it’s going to be offering a Skype service to its customer base for an additional $9.95 a month— Why companies like Comcast can’t simply round off the cost of the services to the nearest whole dollar, I’ll never know.
I think the initiative to get Skype onto cable TV customers set top boxes is a collective effort between Comcast, Microsoft/Skype because of the videoconferencing abilities that the android platform is offering to all the Google customers. The ability to videoconference with just about any customer with an android phone, as long as they have a camera built into their smart phone, they can have a videoconference with that person.
The service from Comcast and Skype is going to be a stationary service, that you have to use in your home, and I’m sure that if you want to have videoconferencing ability in any of your other rooms in your house, or on multiple sets, that will be an extra $10 per set up. The configuration is for Comcast to provide you with a set top box with the ability to connect a video camera to it, and the video, of course, will be displayed to your high definition TV.
I think my offering Skype to the “living room customers” the really focusing their efforts on people who don’t want to deal with a lot of overly complicated processes. These are the same people who don’t like to try to figure out PC problems or perhaps they don’t even own a smart phone. They’re looking for simplicity…
I find it interesting though that Comcast is suspending their transfer caps on bandwidth roughly about the same time their starting their Skype initiative. As everyone knows, or should know, videoconferencing requires a lot of bandwidth; ultimately you will use a lot of bandwidth if you decide start using the Skype function a lot. I think Comcast is suspending their transfer caps on their customers selecting get a better understanding of how much an impact this is going to be on customers bandwidth…
One of the bigger questions in regards to bandwidth, like the other services that Comcast offers, once the bandwidth caps are reinstated, or adjusted; will the video conferencing that Skype offers count against your bandwidth caps/limitations, or is Comcast going to overlook any data transfers that come from their own services, like video-on-demand.
The idea is to bring about change. Comcast‘s video subscriber base has been declining since 2007, roughly right in line with the rising costs of their services. Based on some information last elected about their consumer base, Comcast lost almost 40,000 video customers last quarter. but what’s interesting is that while Comcast‘s video subscribers are falling, Internet subscriptions have been climbing…
Comcast did make some adjustments from their announcement last year, indicating that when they started using the Skype service on their networks that only Comcast customers could talk to Comcast customers, but it seems higher logic has prevailed and Comcast seems to be indicating that Skype customers with Comcast will build to connect with other Skype customers as long as they have a Skype account; which makes a lot more sense.
Competition; nothing makes customers more frustrated than not being able to use their services to the people actually want to interact with. Take for instance, if a Comcast customer wants to Skype a customer of DirecTV or Verizon; it DirecTV or Verizon doesn’t offer videoconferencing using the Skype service, that’s going to be a problem. I Comcast rolling out Skype to its customer base, it’s going to put pressure on the other service providers and the pressure to use Skype as the standard videoconferencing service will start becoming more apparent. Or you’ll start seeing a pressure on Microsoft to allow outside services to interact with Skype, using a universal videoconferencing platform. On that last part, I really don’t see that happening with any great effort.
From all this, that’s what makes me think that the Skype protocol is going to become the standard videoconferencing protocol. If a large number of customers adopt Skype as an additional service, and everyone’s using it, on the computers, on the smartphones, in their living rooms and other devices— exposure alone to that level of videoconferencing; long-term it will be to be a conferencing standard that everyone uses. And that will count for big points for Microsoft and Skype.
While this roll out of video conferencing will roll out to mild reception, I believe that it’d have been better to make it a free option, to saturate the market and make it ubiquitous with the common house hold.
There are changes coming…
Larry Henry Jr.
…via Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11