Skype’s new strategy for 2010: Your flat-screen TV in your living room can now be your phone. Or, if your tastes run more toward “The Twilight Zone,” think of it as your TV watching you — as you watch TV.
The makers of popular software that allows users to make free phone and video calls via the Internet announced new deals Tuesday with LG and Panasonic that put Skype inside new Web-connected versions of their HDTVs. Starting sometime in mid-2010, consumers who buy new Panasonic Viera TVs and LG sets with NetCast Access will be able to plug in special webcams (sold separately) and enjoy face-to-face conversations with family and friends.
Skype earned its reputation as a low-cost alternative to traditional phone calls via your PC, and that particular platform wasn’t ignored in Tuesday’s spate of announcements. The company also said it is now supporting 720p high-definition video calls over computers, and those attending this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas will get a chance to check out new HD webcams from Skype partners faceVsion and In Store Solutions that do all the software encoding within the cameras.