Sony has announced a free Internet-based phone service similar to Skype, but with an emphasis on video conferencing.
Called Instant Video Everywhere, the service relies on Windows-based software that can be downloaded from the Internet. It will also ship with Sony’s new line of Vaio BX laptops, which feature built-in video cameras.
The launch of the IVE service as a free, unlimited use service is a communications watershed for consumers – an instantaneous, easy-to-use application that brings people together by literally putting them in the same room, said Eric Murphy, vice president – integrated visual communications, Sony Electronics. The IVE service is the result of a shared vision projecting how video will continually evolve as an integral tool that people use to communicate in their daily lives.
Like Skype, IVE also will feature a premium service that lets users dial traditional wireline phones and cell phones from their computers. The monthly fee of $9.95 for the premium service includes a 10-digit phone number so IVE users can receive calls from regular and mobile phones.
The service, created in collaboration with GlowPoint Inc., marks the latest attempt at delivering a picture phone for the consumer market. Sony’s alliance with Glowpoint expands on an Internet video-conferencing service for business that the companies launched in June to complement Sony’s equipment.
With millions of people already using the Internet for voice-only communications, the demand already exists for something even better – the ability to talk online while seeing each other face-to-face’, said David Trachtenberg, CEO at GlowPoint. By continuing to innovate with Sony we are bringing a seamless communications experience to people around the world.
Skype has been promising to introduce a video version of its hugely popular voice service by the end of 2005.