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Sony Looks to Redefine TV

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LAS VEGAS—Sony was the first major manufacturer to announce Google TV products last year, but its rollout of the product line across Europe has been stalled as Google reigned in its initiative just ahead of CES.

Sony Google TV-powered products, including Bravia HDTVs and a Blu-ray player, are available in the U.S., but this line up will not be extended into Europe just yet. 

According to Tim Page, senior manager, technology marketing, Europe, "We are studying whether we can launch it but there are no plans on pricing or launch dates yet. There was a plan to have something, but for various reasons that was withdrawn. We may see it at some point this year but nothing concrete unfortunately although we haven't ruled it out completely."

All of Sony's new TVs launched in the U.S. contain a basic web browser for the first time. "That's the first step," said Page. "But integrating it with a search function like Google makes the product much more attractive."

Nonetheless  a connected ecosystem of content and consumer electronics is one that Sony believes it can deliver on better than its rivals.

Sony President and CEO Sir Howard Stringer told a CES audience that Sony was executing its strategy to be the leading global provider of networked entertainment.

"We are redefining TV. By March more than 50 million TV screens in U.S. homes alone will be connected to a Sony device, be that PS3, wi-fi Blu-ray player, or Sony internet TV," he said. "That's a significant base of connected products. But our business is no longer just about the sale of hardware. We have an equally if not more significant revenue base for content across these devices."

Underscoring this message, Sony is to produce an ad campaign this year with the tagline "Television Redfined: Sony Internet TV."

It main connected TV line is the Bravia Internet Video Link platform, partners for which now include Sony's Qriocity VOD service and Music Unlimited, a multiplatform music service that launches in the US with a library of 6 million tracks. Previously announced content partners include Netflix, YouTube, HuluPlus and Amazon on Demand. "Music Unlimited powered by Qriocity" launched in the U.K. and Ireland in December 2010.

In a move which may excite the pay TV market, Time Warner Cable is set to deliver its entire video programming line-up to customers with Sony's internet connected Bravia HDTVs later this year.

This will bring access to programming delivered over IP without the need for a set-top box, said Phil Molyneux, Sony Electronics USA president.

"Delivering cable content over IP will allow consumers new flexibility to view their favourite TV programes on Sony products around the home," Molyneux said.

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