RealTime IT News

AOL, Sony Focus On Home Networking

AOL Time Warner Inc. and Sony Corp. Monday expanded their existing strategic relationship to include a series of broadband home networking initiatives.

At the COMDEX trade show in Las Vegas Monday, Sony President and Chief Operating Officer Kunitake Ando unveiled Sony's vision of a "Ubiquitous Value Network," based on a new hardware platform that allows the seamless connection of both PC and non-PC consumer electronics devices, including televisions, audio equipment and other electronic devices.

"The Ubiquitous Value Network concept is one where devices and products can seamlessly access the network and connect with each other at any time, from any place," Ando said in a keynote presentation. "As the broadband network society reaches a sophisticated form by 2005, we will establish a hardware platform where users will connect with each other and with Sony, creating a completely new lifestyle."

The joint initiatives include:

  • Development of broadband home networking gateway technologies which give consumers access to broadband services from multiple PCs and devices simultaneously, as well as sharing stored entertainment content among multiple devices with copyright management
  • Development of an Internet browser designed for performance, consistent experience and convenience on networked consumer devices
  • Exploration of AOL providing access service for Sony's networked consumer electronics devices in the U.S.

The companies said the products of their joint efforts will not be kept just to Sony and AOL, but will be made available to other consumer electronics manufacturers as well.

"We believe this collaboration will offer consumers an enhanced broadband experience and create new business opportunities for the whole industry," Ando said.

Sony demonstrated a number of products at COMDEX that utilize the Ubiquitous Value Network concept, including a network-compatible television, a prototype wristwatch terminal and the "FEEL" user-interface technology that allows devices to recognize each other as they come into proximity.

"Consumers want the Internet to play a greater role in their lives, and are looking forward to the day when broadband can deliver all of a family's home entertainment, information and communication needs over a variety of devices," said AOL Chairman Steve Case. "By working closely with Sony, one of the world's most innovative companies and a leader in home electronics, we will develop connected products and services for the digital household that are easy to install and easy to use. Working together, we can help make the promise of convergence a reality, benefiting consumers and accelerating the growth of our industries."

As part of its new strategy, Sony has also partnered with Nokia to develop an open middleware platform for making mobile handsets and consumer devices interoperable. The two companies will work on technologies that will enable communication between various types of devices. They will focus on new user interfaces, content downloading, multimedia messaging, open digital rights management and compatibility on implementing IPv6.

"Nokia and Sony share a vision of a future in which many types of devices work together and exchange data and content in a seamless and interoperable way," said Nokia Chairman and CEO Jorma Ollila. "This is a taste which requires broad and open interoperability between devices from many manufacturers."