COMDEX - Sony announces partnerships with AOLTW, Nokia –

LAS VEGAS - Sony Corp. presented the audience at Comdex Fall here Monday with its vision of a future where consumer and mobile computing and electronics products are seamlessly interconnected. Kunitake Ando, the company's president and COO, said in his keynote speech that he thinks wireless network connections will become a standard feature of all future consumer electronic devices made by Sony Corp.

To help make that vision a reality, Ando announced new partnerships with AOL Time Warner Inc. (AOLTW) and Nokia Corp. to improve connectivity between consumer electronic devices and to make home networking easier.

Sony and AOLTW will jointly develop home networking gateway technologies and an Internet browser for consumer electronics devices, Ando said. Some of the joint work will also focus on how Sony hardware products will connect to the network though AOL services.

"Convergence is the way of the future and the future is not so far away," said Steve Case, chairman of AOLTW, speaking during Ando's keynote via videoconference. The goal of the partnership between Sony and AOLTW is to make home networking "as easy as plugging in your toaster," Case said.

The first fruits of the collaboration can be expected in "not days and not years," said Bill Raduchel, chief technical officer of AOLTW, speaking at a press conference after the keynote.

Sony also announced plans to work with Nokia to develop common middleware that will allow consumer devices to communicate with cell phones.

Ando noted that Sony's cooperation with Nokia is not in conflict with Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB, its mobile-phone joint venture with L.M. Ericsson Telephone Co. Ltd. "Although Sony Ericsson and Nokia compete in handsets, we are working together because we realize the importance of interoperability to our customers," Ando said.

A Sony keynote would not be complete without glimpses of a few prototypes on which the company is currently working.

Many of the prototypes involved the 802.11b wireless network standard. A wristwatch videophone allowed Ando to talk to people backstage and a video transmission system also allowed him to demonstrate a home video network through which two video streams can be sent simultaneously. He also unveiled a 1,000G-byte home network storage system, few details of which were disclosed.

To help plug all these devices together, Ando also previewed a user interface technology called "Feel" which allows gadgets to recognize each other and communicate as they come physically close together.

Sony, in Tokyo, can be contacted at +81-3-5448-2111 or online at

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