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The Right Vibe

Videophones may be a mainstay at consumer-technology shows, but they haven't penetrated consumers' homes. Vibe hopes to change that. The company has a video communications platform, complete with video e-mail, video greeting cards and two-way videophone service. Last month, it rolled out a new service with Comcast: More than 100,000 Comcast broadband subscribers will be able to use a Webcam to record video e-mail with VCR-like functionality. Brad Herrick, Vibe senior vice president of product marketing communications, discussed the new platform with B&C's Ken Kerschbaumer.

How does your Vibe e-mail system work?

It's a simple record-and-send application that can record up to 45 seconds per message. It's recorded to the hard drive and then encoded for transmission so users can do other things with the computer. Once it's encoded, the user types in the address and clicks "send." The recipient then gets any text message along with a link to the video. They click on that link, and a Web page appears and plays the Windows Media file.

Do you think this is attractive more to younger users than to older?

We've designed this to appeal to the mainstream. Broadband is increasingly expanding to grandparents who are less tech-savvy. So we've developed an interface that walks customers through the process and gives them a well-documented guide to create video mail. Secondly, the application is a springboard for other things, like two-way video calling.

Are the cable operators looking at two-way video service?

Definitely. We're in discussion with providers. They believe it's an early market and we need to first get customers used to video products. Video mail is the first step to video calling. And more importantly, [we need] to create the networking effect among subscribers that will grow the service.