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Top MSO becomes latest player to abandon paid video chat

Comcast Shuts Premium Skype Service

Mari Silbey
5/8/2013
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Given the ubiquity of free video chat, it's hard to make the case for Skype on TV at US$10 per month. After a year of trying, Comcast Corp. will quietly shut down its Xfinity Skype service on June 1. Comcast will continue to support existing customers. Skype on Xfinity launched ahead of the Cable Show last year, with service starting in Boston and Seattle. Triple-play customers were offered the TV-based videoconferencing product with a free hardware kit that included a video camera, adapter box and remote control. At $9.95 a month, however, DSLReports has confirmed that the service suffered poor adoption rates. (See also Consumers Embrace Video Calling, if It's Free.) Comcast isn't the only company that has tried to make a go of paid video chat. WorldGate and Motorola Inc. pushed hard eight years ago for the Ojo videophone, which promised high-quality video conversations, but the retail equipment cost several hundred dollars. Then there was Cisco Systems Inc. with its expensive umi home videophone service. Both ventures ended badly. (See The End of the World[Gate] and Cisco's Farewell to Consumers.) This latest videoconferencing failure doesn't mean cable is done with telepresence, however. Comcast and Rogers Communications Inc. invested $15 million in Tely Labs only seven months ago with the hope of wooing commercial customers to videophone service. (See Comcast & Rogers Plows $15M into Telepresence.) Tely Labs has used the funding to introduce telyHD Business Edition, a premium videoconferencing service aimed at the SMB market. — Mari Silbey, Special to Light Reading Cable

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Telco
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Telco,
User Rank: Light Beer
5/9/2013 | 2:29:09 PM
re: Comcast Shuts Premium Skype Service
We still have a problem of launching anything or only home runs. Some companies launch anything and support as much new technology to get/keep any subscriber while others launch only those that will increase subscribers by 5%. The pitfalls- if you launch anything, you irritate those who look at margins for each silo while you please many community of users. If you launch only the home runs, you push users who need specialty requirements to small service provides who only need to feed 100 to 500 employee families. Same argument as 20 years ago. Asia carriers turn on all features while European and NA carriers only turn-on hopeful home-runs.
msilbey
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msilbey,
User Rank: Blogger
5/9/2013 | 12:16:35 AM
re: Comcast Shuts Premium Skype Service
Craig- Given all the disasters preceding it, it's hard to imagine how this ever got off the ground.
craigleddy
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craigleddy,
User Rank: Blogger
5/8/2013 | 7:36:55 PM
re: Comcast Shuts Premium Skype Service
Does this surprise anyone? From the moment it was announced the service was dogged by questions of why people would pay to put Skype on TV when you can get it on a laptop for free. Our friends and family can only look so good on a big-screen HDTV. "Hey Grandpa, back away from the camera!"
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