Sony announced several new
partnerships and technology deals at E3, making a major play to enter the online gaming
market before Microsoft can get its online bits in order. Both companies have professed
the importance of online gaming to the success of console systems, and Sony has
specifically illuminated desires to create an online distribution network for all kinds of
gaming, movies, music, and other broadband entertainment applications.
The largest announcement was probably the deal between Sony and AOL to bring Netscape,
and AOL client, and AOL Instant Messenger to the PlayStation 2. Sony demonstrated the
Netscape browser for PS2 on the show floor, and it looked gorgeous on the newly announced
problem, due in part to Sonys recently announced alliance with Macromedia.
To further enhance the online entertainment value of the PS2, Sony also announced a
deal with RealNetworks, makers of the popular Real Player 8. Real Player technology will
be used to stream video data to PS2 units, and Sony has plans to make use of
RealNetworks other applications as well. PS2 owners will be able to take advantage
of hundreds of online radio stations and a multitude of sites using the Real Media format
to stream video. In addition, Sony Computer Entertainment has also developed the Dynamic
Network Authentication System, a proprietary version of RealNetworks RealSystem iQ
technology, in order to manage secure copy distribution of video content on the PS2. This
means that Sonys plans to supply new release video and first run movies via the
Internet is taking shape.
To better facilitate development of online games and utilities for the PS2, Sony has
partnered with Cisco Systems, who will bring their Internet Protocol software to the PS2
in an optimized form. This software will be incorporated into the PS2 software development
kit, and users will get the software with the Sony network adapter.
Of course, in order to access the Internet, or make use of broadband capabilities, the
PS2 will have to be upgraded. Sony announced the release of its long-touted network
adapter in November 2001 for a retail price of $39.95. The adapter features an 10/100 Base
TX Ethernet jack for broadband connections, as well as a standard analog modem. This will
allow gamers to connect to the Internet regardless of the availability of broadband in
their area. To accent the network adapter, Sony also announced a 40 GB hard disk drive
that will fit into the empty bay on the PS2.
Overall, Sony looks to be in the process of setting up a user-friendly way to get
console gamers online. They are also pursuing their professed agenda of developing online
entertainment distribution, and they plan to accent this technology with content from all
divisions of Sonys entertainment empire. By next Fall, the DVD playback function of
the PS2 wont be the only auxiliary function for the system.