Download service for PSPs eyed

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Sony Pictures reportedly will launch a video-downloading service next year aimed at boosting the PlayStation Portable's profile as a multimedia device and not just a hand-held game player.

The PSP was launched in March 2005 amid a flurry of studio announcements promising movies on the proprietary Universal Media Disc format. But poor sales prompted most studios, including Sony, to either cut back or stop producing UMD movies.

The ability to download movies, TV shows and other content always has been in the cards for the PSP. Although no announcements have been made, reports in the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times said that Sony is fast-tracking a new service that will let PSP users download movies on their computers and store them on MemoryStick memory cards for viewing on the PSP.

Third-party downloading sites are said to be in negotiations with Sony to use the service, while another service reportedly in the works would allow downloads directly to the PSP. Sony has deals with Amazon.com and most of the major download sites, including Movielink and CinemaNow.

A statement from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, which according to reports is spearheading the initiative, reiterated the lack of any firm announcements but stopped short of a denial.

"We are in the business of providing content for download to computers through a variety of business partners and have said in the past that we are interested in making our content available on a wide range of mobile devices in the future, but no decisions have been made regarding next steps," SPHE said.

The PSP sold more than 14 million units in its first year but only 9 million since. Last month, only 412,000 PSPs were sold, compared with 918,000 units of the Nintendo DS and 641,000 units of Nintendo's Game Boy Advance, according to the NPD Group.
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