Sony planning PS3-electronics connectivity, PSN expansion

CEO Sir Howard Stringer says console will soon have online connectivity to range of products, including mobile phones; PSN being primed to take on Xbox Live, iTunes.

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At the 2006 Electronic Entertainment Expo, Sony first took the wraps off Remote Play, a function that would allow PlayStation 3 owners to wirelessly stream music, videos, and games from their consoles onto a PlayStation Portable. A local version of the functionality was introduced in March as part of the PS3's v1.6 firmware update and was further enhanced to allow access via the Internet as part of November 1.8 firmware update.

Today, Sony CEO Sir Howard Stringer told an audience in Tokyo that Remote Play is only the beginning of the PS3's external connectivity. The Bloomberg news service reports that the Welsh executive--the first Western-born CEO in Sony's history--said his company plans to eventually link up the PS3 to mobile phones and a range of other unspecified electronics. The specific mention of phones resurrected longstanding rumors that Sony is readying a PlayStation-branded phone much like its Bravia TV-branded Sony Ericsson mobile.

The drive for mobile phone-to-PS3 connectivity will be part of Sony's next three-year business plan, which starts on April 1, 2008. That date also marks the start of Sony's next fiscal year, which Stringer predicts will see a massive expansion of the PS3's online service, the PlayStation Network.

"PlayStation Network next year puts us in the direct line of fire with Apple and Microsoft," Stringer told the Reuters news service, obliquely referencing iTunes and Xbox Live. He also dropped hints, which reinforced previous Sony statements, that the year would see many assets in the company's massive content portfolio appear on PSN. "On Friday, we had a dinner where the heads of Sony Electronics, [Sony] Pictures, Sony BMG, and Sony PlayStation were all at the same dinner table intermingled and actually communicating," he said.

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