A Wall Street Journal article today says Sony is to challenge Apple in TV and movie downloads.
On one hand, that makes sense. Sony is carefully positioning its PlayStation 3 game console as the entertainment hub in people’s homes. The PlayStation Portable (PSP), linked to the PS3, provides the mobile view-on-the-go component, and Sony just last week introduced the first Walkmans that can play movies, trailers, and music video clips, in addition to playing music. Also in the mix is Sony’s line of Bravia televisions, which delivers the high-definition monitor to view content, either through the PS3 or a module connected to the TV that allows downloading of Internet content.
With Internet connections becoming faster and broadband more readily available, it makes sense that the downloading of television and movie content only increases in the coming years, perhaps even eclipsing the digital music market as some analysts are predicting.
Sony and its CEO, Howard Stringer, is betting big on video downloading.
“We’ve been saying for years that if there’s a company that can marry all this emerging content to products that people want, it’s Sony that’s going to make it happen,” Kurt Scherf, a Park Associates analyst, told the WSJ.
But on the other hand, Sony’s entering the television and movie download business seems late-to-the-party, risky, and a commodity strategy tinged with desperation.
Apple (with the iPod, iPhone, AppleTV and iTunes Music Store) and Microsoft (with the Xbox and Windows Media) are already on the scene, duking it out. Add to the mix Internet companies, television and movie studios, cable operators, and mobile providers, and the market seems cramped, with little elbow room. Everybody wants a piece of the action.
If the public squabble between Apple and NBC Universal is any indication, that piece of action may not be hugely profitable as the margin for television and movie downloads is slim.
And to make matters a little more murkier for television and movie downloads, The Diffusion Group noted in a recent report that the newer rental methods of direct mail, video-on-demand, and pay-per-view are growing in popularity, while online rentals were making a “negligible impact” on rental behavior.
Something, it seems, that doesn’t make a difference to Sony.