Skype has announced today that, as part of a partnership with Panasonic, it wil be adding its voice over internet protocol (VOIP) software to Panasonic’s line of Viera HDTVs.
Panasonic’s new line of Viera cast-enabled tellies is set to hit during the still-vague “2010”, and with Skype coming pre-installed the company will be able to boast free Skype-to-Skype video calling out of the box, which is no mean feat at all. It’ll also be attractive to those who’ve been looking to ditch their house phones but can’t quite get around to it or for some reason or another don’t like the idea of a physical Skype-phone.
In a market with an atmosphere like the current HDTV market, where many products appear (to the casual observer, at least) to be fairly similar, the ability to make calls directly from one TV to another for free could well be a big selling point for the folks at Panasonic, to say nothing of the positive effect that broadening the software’s userbase will have for Skype, which essentially trades on the fact that it’s so widely used and relatively cheap.
Naturally, a wider userbase increases the likelihood that people will use some of Skype’s fee-based services too. While the option to call or videocall other Skype users is a pleasant one, the real bonus is, of course, in the ability to call other phones for less than the normal charge. It might well be a bit of a hard sell for some, but it’s not bad if it’s something that just comes as an add-on for a TV.
We’ll be curious to see how well Panasonic does out of the deal; it certainly won’t hurt the company to be able to offer something that others aren’t though, and cheap phone calls are a big draw.