Sony, Microsoft set to clash for hearts, minds, wallets

BILL GATES MIGHT TOO RICH for our own good, but he's not stupid. Warned that losses on X-Box might be huge, the chief Vole decided that online gaming would be too significant to hand on a plate to Sony. So he took a deep breath, prepared to write off $3 billion or so and rubber stamped the project that surprised many an industry pundit shocked at seeing the king of software entering the hardware arena.

And, while the company spends $150 to sell each console it produces, the importance arch-rival Sony attaches to online gaming begins to emerge.

A Sony spokesman recently said that around 60 per cent of the corporation's total profits for 2002 would be PS2 related. The company is now gearing up to exploit the expected growth in the online gaming market that could be worth billions to the major players, depending on how they develop their strategies. DFC Intelligence recently said it expects 114 million people will regularly play online by 2006. Eyeing such forecasts, Microsoft has already earmarked $1 billion to market its X-box online gaming strategy, X-Box Live.

A piece on Asiabiztech claims Sony is set to reposition itself as an online firm, putting the PS2 at the heart of its strategy. It also claims the Japanese consumer electronics wizard is seeking to put network connectivity into all its devices, from consoles to phones, Vaio notebooks to Aibo the robot dog, (we imagine).

And central to Sony's strategy to allow users to be able to connect with one another with a variety of devices will be the user ID called My Sony ID, which Sony will allocate to every customer. This ID could be compared with Microsoft's Passport system, which allows users to log on to various 'value added' services around the Net, and which the software maker (and console dabbler) seeks to extend across a variety of web services.

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