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