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Comcast launches interactive communications center; features Plaxo and Zimbra
Comcast has announced that they are creating the "industry's first fully integrated, Web-based communications center". Powered by companies including Plaxo and Zimbra, the service will be available for their triple play (voice, cable, internet) customers.
"With the SmartZone communications center, we continue to provide superior value to Triple Play customers by putting a suite of communications tools right at their fingertips. From one central dashboard, they will now be able to manage email, voicemail and personal contacts and customize their experience," said Greg Butz, Senior Vice President, Product Development for Comcast.
I have used both Plaxo and Zimbra and am very impressed with their services. Plaxo states they have over 15 million members (of course people may have multiple accounts) and Zimbra just passed the 6 million paid mailbox mark. This should certainly boost the counts for both services by a good margin.
On the flip side, as a Comast Internet customer since 1998, I have never used their home page nor their email service. So while it may work for some, I most likely won't see a benefit. In addition, you really need to have their phone service to take advantage of some of the features including the visual voicemail.
HP, Bizanga, Cloudmark and Trend Micro are also part of the new communications center.
Some of the features from the Comcast release include:
- Easily merge their contacts into one Universal Address Book that synchronizes all of their online address books into one and is accessible from multiple Web-enabled devices.
- Send Instant Messages and Video Instant Messages that enable customers to connect with friends and contacts online in real time.
- Personalize their SmartZone communications centers with other features like weather, news reports and video clips.
- View, send and receive email integrated with voice mail, all on one, easy-to-navigate Web page.
- Experience "Visual" Voice Mail, which means customers can listen to their voicemails online and forward voice mail messages via email to anyone. Customers can also save and manage Call Logs just like they can with email.
The customized, personalized home page space is hot again. I can't believe I am saying that after the late '90s and the "portals" – it is a bit interesting that none of the big players, Netvibes, yourminis, etc. call themselves a portal. Since Comcast already has a large "former AOL" base of users as they move from dial-up to cable modems, this should prove a positive upgrade. I wonder if Comcast will force the start page to their users at some point in the future? Save $5 on your monthly bill if you use comcast.net as your start page?