PlayStation is center of Sony future


Sony unveiled its digital dreams Thursday, disclosing plans to add video delivery and wireless capabilities to its PlayStation consoles, Bravia TVs and other devices.

Speaking from Sony's corporate headquarters, Sony CEO Howard Stringer and games division president Kazuo Hirai emphasized growth and investment in contrast to the cuts and strategic shifts that plagued the consumer electronics giant in recent years.

The corporation confirmed a long-rumored video download service for the PlayStation 3 console will be launched this summer in the U.S. and later in Japan and Europe.

In keeping with its pledge to drive synergies between its content and electronics businesses, Sony said its theatrical "Hancock" will be streamed in HD via Internet connection to its Bravia LCD TVs in the fall — before the title's DVD release.

"This is an industry first, and Sony now has the capability to deliver content direct to TVs," Stringer said.

Little detail was shared on announced plans to allow PlayStation users to download video, a move aimed at boosting the console, the sales of which trail competing offerings Xbox 360 from Microsoft and Nintendo's Wii.

The 50 million-strong user base of PlayStation players is an expanding network to which Sony can deliver a global download service with localized content, one that would be at the forefront of the convergence of TV, gaming and the Internet, Hirai said.

The company offered a demonstration of its thrice-delayed PlayStation Home virtual world environment. A new platform, Life With PlayStation, also was unveiled. It allows users to travel around an image of the globe, checking in on news, weather reports and events in real time.

"The idea is for people to turn on their PS3s instead of their TVs when they get up in the morning," said Hirai, who didn't indicate a launch date for the service.

The gaming division, along with the TV manufacturing business, is on course to move into profitability by the second half of Sony's financial year, which ends in March.

Sony also plans to double its group revenue from the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries to ¥2 trillion ($20 billion) by 2010.

"We plan to utilize the successful model we've established that has made SET (Sony Entertainment Television) India the No. 1-rated TV network there and leverage that in the other emerging markets," Stringer said. (partialdiff)