Mobile services

Comcast Gets the (Unified) Message

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has hooked up with a handful of software and Internet service partners to create SmartZone, a "communications center" that will provide high-speed subscribers with direct access to their email and voice mail messages, as well as an instant message app and an integrated address book.

Using a dashboard-style interface for the PC, SmartZone will "seamlessly integrate the key features of the triple-play," says Greg Butz, Comcast's senior vice president of product development, referring to the MSO's bundle of voice, video, and Internet services. (See Comcast Banks on Triple Play.)

With SmartZone, he said, customers won't have to go to multiple locations or open multiple applications for access to their communications services. Comcast appears to be the first MSO to try to become this kind of central messaging hub.

Among its features, the dashboard will support what Comcast calls "visual" voice mail, which enables customers to listen to messages online as audio files and forward those messages via email.

Comcast will offer the service free to high-speed subs via its customer portal, Comcast.net. The MSO has more than 12 million cable modem customers.

In terms of partners, SmartZone will integrate the Plaxo address book service, which claims to have more than 15 members worldwide; the Bizanga email anti-abuse system; anti-spam and anti-phishing tools from Cloudmark Inc. ; anti-virus software from Trend Micro Inc. ; and messaging and collaboration software from Zimbra Inc.

SmartZone is slated for launch later this year. Butz declined to assign a specific launch date for the service, but said it is available in beta form with "friendlies" today.

Last week, during its analyst and investor day, Comcast execs said the MSO is also working on a TV-based caller ID application that will be offered on digital set-tops and integrated with the Comcast Digital Voice service.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 3:09:07 PM
re: Comcast Gets the (Unified) Message I can see why Comcast wants to bond with customers this way, but I'm not sure I want one provider/app for all these messaging functions.

Something tells me I'm going to be in the minority on that, though. I'd expect other carriers to start trying things like this. Hey, unified messaging on the Xbox - why not!
BlueButtMonkey 12/5/2012 | 3:09:04 PM
re: Comcast Gets the (Unified) Message Re: the mention of caller ID on TV - is Comcast building that themselves...or following the partner model of SmartZone? Time Warner offers it, but I'm not sure how they do it (build v. buy).
Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 3:08:52 PM
re: Comcast Gets the (Unified) Message They didn't mention anything specific on the analyst's call last week, but we can do some checking around. The most obvious choice would be Integra5 if they go with a buy approach. However, there were rumblings at the show about operators having those apps developed and then integrating them into the existing fabric.
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