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Sony plans to enter into the IPTV market

Sony is reportedly experimenting with a new TV service that would bring content from providers like NBC, News Corp. and various cable channels directly to viewers through the Internet. Compatible devices would most likely include Sony TVs, Blu-ray players and video game systems. Tech insiders say next-generation online TV could soon be a hotly contested battle zone between Sony, Apple, Google and others.

The TV broadcast industry may soon go the way of the phone and the music industry: a complete reformation thanks to the Internet and the next step may come from Sony.

Sony has been said to reach out to several large media companies, including NBC, News Corp. and Discovery Communications, to discuss rights that would enable the company to deliver content over the Internet to PlayStation 3 video game consoles and other Sony devices, such as Blu-Ray players and directly to TVs.

The changing world of television has already been a hot spot for tech companies. Apple is rumored to be planning an actual TV set to replace its current offering of a connected peripheral. Talk of Sony experimenting with IPTV has been heating up since the company's CEO, Howard Stringer, commented last week that the company is ready to produce the innovation needed to reinvigorate the TV market.

Stringer noted that TV makers' desire to increase market share has produced a heavily competitive market. Sony is working on a new generation of TV sets that are meant to separate them from the rest of the herd and command a premium price tag.

"Sony has a terrific combination of content and platforms, including PCs and the PlayStation, to leverage for such an ambitious effort," said Charles King, senior analyst at Pund-IT. As for what it will take for Internet TV to catch on, King believed that widespread acceptance would require a break from long-held behavior patterns.

"It is not just a matter of a technology or approach catching the public's attention," said King. "A successful business strategy will also have to be big enough to displace or overcome entrenched competing stakeholders. That would include television and film studios as well as cable TV interests he added.

"Ideally, the future of television will include more choices for viewers and more support for independent producers," explained King. "But to get there, there will have to be some fracturing and consolidation in the traditional entertainment industry."

Eventually TV will be altered by the Internet one way or the other - whether it will begin with Sony or not, TV is about to be rocked by the Web, King said.