Sony Online Service aims to achieve brand loyalty

In an AP interview, Sony executive VP Kaz Hirai declared the upcoming Sony Online Service, which adds PSN-like features (possibly including game, music and movie downloads) to a wide variety of Sony devices, a major selling point. "That's the kind of combination that I think is not seen anywhere else," Hirai said. "That I think is where our core competence lies, and that's a differentiator for Sony."

Additionally, Hirai told Business Week that Sony hopes to get the service into other devices next year and, "Earlier in the year would be a lot more preferable." In the interview, Hirai said that the Sony Online Service would take the iTunes-like approach of registering users as soon as the device is powered on, to register their accounts immediately. Once invested in such an account, the implication is that users will be more likely to continue purchasing media on that same account and buy more Sony devices to get additional use out of it -- much like iTunes users are driven to continue buying iPods to play iTunes Store's AAC-format music.

Hirai also looked to social networking elements, along with the cross-device connectivity, to push Sony's future offerings. "What are your friends watching right now? There's a screen that says all the programming that's available. It highlights all the things that your friends are watching, for example. It's a community experience."

As for sharing the actual content (not just the experience), Hirai wasn't so sure. He concluded that the "debate is still going on" about how many devices will be able to share content.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.