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PLAYTIME IS OVER
Sony Merges Its "Content" For 21st Century
Consumer electronics giant Sony Corporation has announced plans to restructure and unify its U.S. entertainment assets to consequently create what it characterizes as the "Sony Dream World." The company recently introduced its new gaming device, the PlayStation2, in Japan, and the former "toy" now looms large in its overall plans for a fully integrated Internet business. Sony hopes the move will broaden its Net content distribution and enhance its ambition to become the center of the new-media revolution.

The new Playstation2 video console will be equipped with a hard drive, modem and keyboard in addition to DVD capabilities. So now avid gamers can virtually blast double agents while downloading porn and waiting for the microwave popcorn before viewing "Terminator 2." The device, available domestically later this year, will also allow users to bypass cable operators and streamline Sony content distribution in the U.S.

Inasmuch as movies, music and games are all simply "content" in the brave new world, the company is restructuring Sony Pictures and Sony Music under a new holding company called Sony Broadband Entertainment Inc. This group, along with Sony Electronics (both under the Sony Corp. of America umbrella) will be headed by Chairman and CEO Howard Stringer. Which begs the question, is Sony setting itself up to be the media Big Brother or, as some analysts believe, does the move foreshadow a spinoff of the company's entertainment assets?

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