Further blurring the lines between voice and data services, Comcast has updated its Xfinity Connect apps for iOS and Android to include in-app voicemail transcripts.
The readable voicemail feature was already available on the web and through email, but is new to Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s native apps. Other changes in the recent update -- which appeared in the Google Play Store on June 26 and on iTunes June 27 -- include an upgraded user interface, new notification options with push-based alerts, offline outbox message queuing, consolidated email groups with favorites now listed under contacts, and performance improvements.
Comcast announced its Voice2go services two years ago as part of Xfinity Connect. Positioning Voice2go as complementary to wireless carrier services, the company introduced features that let subscribers make and receive calls and text messages online. At the time, Comcast emphasized how Voice2go enriches the Xfinity home voice product, but it was careful to downplay any threat to wireless providers. (See Comcast Gives Wi-Fi a Voice.)
Fast forward to today, and Comcast may be pursuing broader mobile ambitions. The company continues to upgrade Xfinity Connect and Voice2go, adding functionality that in some cases trumps what cellular carriers have to offer. The latest updates to Xfinity Connect also come in the context of both broad cable WiFi initiatives, and a steady proliferation of other Xfinity apps. (See Comcast Offers WiFi to KDDI, Taiwan Mobile Subs.)
In addition, there is evidence that the once-cozy relationship between Comcast and Verizon Wireless may have cooled. The two companies, along with Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) and Bright House Networks , signed a groundbreaking spectrum and services deal in 2011. (See MSOs Sell Spectrum to Verizon.)
However, while Comcast still partners with Verizon Wireless to sell bundled services in some markets, the partners shuttered a joint innovation lab last August when all parties decided to pursue new technologies on their own.
Cable companies have long coveted a consumer wireless play, but the industry has had very little success making that ambition a reality. Comcast may not have its own cellular service as the company once envisioned, but it hasn't given up on mobility. Xfinity Connect is just one part of a strategy that continues to extend Comcast beyond the home.
— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading