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Cloud-Based Music & Video Service Coming To EU Sony Devices

On Wednesday Sony announced that Qriocity, a new cloud-based, subscription model service for music and video streaming, will be launching on several hardware devices later this year in Europe. Qriocity’s Video on Demand has been available in the US since April, but this year will also bring the launch of the music streaming service Music Unlimited.

Sony has confirmed the service for PS3s, Bravia televisions, Blu-ray systems and VAIO computers at launch, with additional Sony hardware devices being added in the future.

The launches will focus on France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.

Unfortunately for Sony, the timing of this announcement couldn’t have been worse, as the same day Apple replenished their dominance with the announcement of iPod and iTunes product line that has thwarted Sony and many other competitors over the years.

“We are excited to offer our customers high quality, cloud-based entertainment experiences across many of Sony’s network-enabled devices,” said Sony president Kazuo Hirai.

However, Sony’s cloud model may be enough to differentiate them from Apple in some respect. With iPods and iTunes, customers have to buy music online or transfer from a CD and store it on their devices or iTunes libraries.

Apple’s approach is very much a device-centric model. Although as Apple stated on Wednesday, it’s proved very successful: with 12 billion songs, 450 million TV shows, 100 million movies, and 35 million books being downloaded so far from Apple.

Qcriocity services however, rely on the cloud, a distinctively different model.

With Qriocity the music is sent over the network to a variety of devices: Sony TVs, Blu-ray players, consoles, and Windows PCs. What about the iPod? Sony has said that this service will become increasingly available on a range of portable devices in the near future.

Streaming audio over the Net is fine for broadband connections, but portable devices don’t always have them, and when they do, data subscription plans can impose limits. However, mobile devices will be able to cache data on their own storage systems, said Chris Thielbar, manager of product planning for Sony’s network services.

Nishida promised a “huge libarary of music tracks in the cloud,” though. In addition, Qriocity “will become a platform for a wide range of third-party service providers who can make the entertainment experience compelling and entertaining,” he said.

In demonstrations of the service at the press event, a remote control could be used to select music, including selecting various genres such as classical and alternative; eras divided by decade; “premium” content; and music delivered by Sony’s SenseMe technology to pick music based on a person’s mood.

Users will be able to “discover music through channels personalized to their tastes,” he added. “There’s no need to manage music files. Music Unlimited powered by Qriocity will change the way we all enjoy our music.”

Pricing models for the service have yet to be revealed but it looks like Sony is banking on this new cloud-based subscription service to revolutionize the way their customers play, listen, watch and share digital entertainment.

Sony is not the first company to take advantage of digital distribution and as many in the industry have predicted, cloud-based services will play integral roles in defining the relationship between distributor and consumer in the digital marketplace.

For more news and information you can follow me on Twitter @The_GeekJock

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