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Sony to Take On Amazon, Netflix with Download Service

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Looks like Sony wants to take on the likes of Apple, Netflix, and Amazon in the digital content business: in an interview, Sony executive VP Kaz Hirai has said that Sony is hoping to launch its own online content service by early 2010. The service, provisionally called the “Sony Online Service,” would build on the company’s existing PlayStation Network to bring movies, music, books, and more forms of digital content to devices like Sony Bravia TVs, walkman personal media players, devices like the Sony Reader, Sony Vaio PCs, and Sony Ericsson phones.

Sony hasn’t determined what the service offerings will be, but it’s a good bet it will feature content from Sony’s own film and music groups. The PlayStation Network currently carries content from all the major movie studios as well as U.S. television networks; in order to compete with other online services, Sony will likely want to extend those deals into its broader service offerings. No pricing or tiering models have been released: some content may be available for free, some may be available on an a la carte basis, and some may be available via subscription.

Hirai emphasized that Sony hopes to bring something “unique” to the online content business, and envisions devices constantly evolving as new content and applications are delivered to them via the service—those capabilities, as well as the online service itself, will serve as differentiating factors for Sony’s devices in an increasingly crowded consumer electronics marketplace.

Sony’s PlayStation Network currently boasts some 33 million subscribers; Sony has just expanded the PlayStation Network to offer video downloads in the UK, Germany, and France.