Comcast Gets the (Unified) Message
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