Comcast Launches Skype on Xfinity TV

Comcast Corp., the largest U.S. cable company, announced May 16 that it is introducing Skype™ on Xfinity®. The service lets subscribers make and receive video calls from their TV in HD picture quality, as well as send and receive instant messages via Skype while watching TV at the same time. The new service is Comcast’s attempt to differentiate itself from competitive offerings, while also adding an incremental revenue stream.

The service is now available in Boston and Seattle and before the end of the week, it will launch in eight additional markets. Additional markets will launch through the summer.  According to Comcast’s blog, Skype on Xfinity is a fully integrated TV experience that enables the user to continue watching TV while video calling, with picture-in-picture functionality, or instant messaging all at the same time. Read more

Pew: 24% of Online Adults Use VoIP

According to the a new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 24% of all American adult Internet users — or 19% of all U.S. adults — have used the Internet to complete a voice call. On any given day, 5% of Internet users are going online to place phone calls.

Both figures are marked increases from the last time Pew asked these questions in early 2007, and found that 8% of Internet users (6% of all adults) had placed calls online and 2% of Internet users were making calls on any given day.

Not surprisingly, Pew found that that most VoIP users tend to be younger, and most live in urban and suburban areas. In rural areas alone, Pew notes that 13% of online adults have used a VoIP service.

Pew attributes the rise to several factors: Read more

Skype Releases New Software, Integrates with Facebook

Late last week Skype launched a new version of its PC software, Skype 5.0, available now for Windows machines. The VoIP application has a new “revitalized look and feel” in addition to new functionality. (See the video after the jump.)

As predicted, Skype is now integrated with Facebook. The new software allows Skype users to login to their Facebook accounts and perform a variety of Facebook tasks from within the Skype interface. By meshing the Facebook News Feed and Phonebook contact list with the Skype interface, users are able to view and post messages to their Facebook activity stream, comment on others’ posts, and communicate via SMS, phone and the Skype VoIP service.

In addition to the Facebook integration, Skype 5.0 also introduces a free trial of group video calling. Skype users are increasingly connecting via video, accounting for  approximately 40% of all Skype-to-Skype minutes in the first half of this year, according to the company.  Read more

23% of U.S. Internet Users Have Tried Video Calling

Video calling has become increasingly available as camcorders have spread through the online environment, cameras have been built into smartphones, and as video-chat services like Skype, Google Talk, Apple iChat and FaceTime have become a feature of the online and smartphone environment. Teleconferencing is also becoming more embedded in the business environment.

This summer, in a nationally-representative telephone survey using landlines and cell phones, the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Project asked for the first time about the prevalence of video calling both online and on cell phones.

The survey of 3,001 adults found that 74% of American adults are Internet users and, among those Internet users, 23% have participated in video calls, chats or teleconferences. The survey also found that 85% of American adults have cell phones and, among those cell owners, 7% have used their phones for video calls, chats, or teleconferences. Overall, that means that 19% of Americans have either used the Internet or their cell phone to participate in video calls – and in many cases, people have used both technologies for video chats. Read more

Cisco Launches ‘Umi’ Home HD Videoconferencing Solution

After much anticipation by the tradepress, last week Cisco officially launched Cisco ūmi telepresence. Pronounced you-me, Cisco has developed  an HD videoconferencing system aimed at consumers. (See the video after the jump.) The ūmi comes equipped with an HD camera, a console and a remote. The camera sits on top of the user’s HDTV and the rectangular set-top connects to the TV and Internet, while also handling the processing of the video data. Read more