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Hot off the Press - NEWS
CES Las Vegas 2003
1/10/03 by Keith Benicek

Sony takes on MS for Home Networking.

Sony has and always will take a different, and always it’s own, approach to consumer products. So, it was no surprise to see that Sony believes that home consumer electronincs networks should instead revolve around the TV set, rather than the PC. And, that means Sony TV sets, Vaio PCs and several other consumer electronics devices, which will all be talking to each other over a network. Their plan is to have Video and Music stored on a PC will be playable on any TV screen in the house.

Sony’s (NYSE: SNE) CEO Kunitake Ando, shared this corporate strategy today in an address at the 2003 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), taking place here this week. "In my view, the first 50 years of color television were only the infancy," said Ando. "TV is being reborn as an always-on interactive device."

Sony has dubbed this initiative Cocoon. It entails giving TV sets and other entertainment devices an Ethernet connection, a hard disk drive and the ability to connect to broadband Internet connections. All would work by remote control, allowing consumers to easily select movies, music videos and other digital content stored on their PC, and play it on any screen in the house. Already available in Japan, Ando said Sony will start releasing Cocoon-branded products around the rest world, especially the US, this year. Ando also announced a product called Roomlink that will connect Sony's Vaio-branded PCs to its Wega TV screens.

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Obviously, the Sony Computer in the system will be one running Microsoft’s Windows, each and every other device in the system will be running a version of Linux, according to Sony spokesmen. Sony is one of several companies, including NEC, Matsushita Panasonic, and Royal Philips, which are developing a flavor of Linux that will connect Windows PCs and various entertainment devices.

What does Microsoft think of this? You can certainly imagine and this is yet another slap at Microsoft in a three year long tiff since Sony learned Microsoft was developing the X Box behind Sony’s back.

In a very different view, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates in his speech yesterday, the same kinds of devices are just as well connected to each other, but would be running on some variety of Windows OS.

I think that consumers will be far happier with the reliability of Linux over the still flakey Windows XP and Windows Pocket PC/CE variants.

The best that Microsoft could muster as a responsive slap was Bill Gates promoting some doppie Wrist-watches called SPOT watches, so named after Microsoft's Smart Personal Objects Technology. More on this in a separate report.



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