Sony launched a free Web-based phone service on Wednesday called Instant Video Everywhere, designed to link users of the service via their computers.
According Sony's Web site, the new service will ship with the company's latest version of Vaio BX laptops, which are equipped with built-in video cameras.
The move comes as traditional phone companies are losing their grip on services that were once theirs exclusively. In September, eBay announced that it had agreed to pay $2.6 billion for Net telephone provider Skype, one of the premiere Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, companies. eBay said it plans to boost communications between buyers and sellers.
Yahoo, AOL and others also offer video-calling services similar to IVE. Video-phone services have long been touted by technology enthusiasts but have struggled to attract a mainstream audience.
Sony said it will also offer to connect IVE users to landlines and cell phones for a monthly fee of $9.95.