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Sony finally delivers on the old Qriocity shop in Europe

Don’t know about you but I can hardly believe in a Sony online video service any more

By PETER WHITE

Published: 25 November, 2010

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Don’t know about you but I can hardly believe in a Sony online video service any more. It says this week that it has launched Qriocity in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, but we’re not so sure this is going to make any difference to Sony.

We can remember when it launched against iTunes, with proprietary formats, identical software and called it Sony Connect. Then there’s the PlayStation Network – is this the same thing as Qriocity? Does membership of one allow you into the other? If so is it with the same password? Can you watch Qriocity movies on PS3s (yes you can)? And in the past for Sony there were multiple attempts at creating such a paid network, initially in Japan, and the results just faded away. Let’s hope it has the political will to keep this one afloat, because in the past Sony has just not understood that it is services which sell devices.

Back in 2005 was the first time we saw Sony saying it was going this route, but only in Japan, constantly talking about competing with iTunes. It has been uniquely placed to offer a film service and it has many of the perfect video devices in the Bravia TV range, its connected Blu-ray set tops, the PS3 and the PSP, not to mention PCs and Sony Ericsson phones. And of course it happens to have control of around 8000 major motion pictures. It’s been execution however that has slowed Sony down, a combination of the right hand specifically not being allowed to know what the left is doing and 5 or 6 technology segments working to the detriment of one another rather than together. Do you remember the Sony One campaign? It was designed to convince the company it was one, not 6 companies. It never convinced itself, never mind us.

The first service came out of its own Japanese ISP So-net, under the brand of Portable TV. It used the H.264 codec for the first time on the PSP and issued a firmware upgrade back then and it also used its own Atrac3 for the audio codec just to make sure no other devices could muscle in. The Atrac3 part of it has long gone, but if it takes Sony 5 years to get anything half right, it will never catch up with Apple (or Netflix), which has entered a market and achieved 70% dominance before 5 years are up. Also back then it was video downloading, not streaming and at least it hasn’t made that mistake, or has it?

We have no problems with the actual service, and now that Sony has managed to promulgate it across multiple device types (finally, except what about phones? Not yet) – which makes us only doubt Sony’s ability to market it.

Watching Qriocity come to life has been like watching an ocean going tanker try a three point turn in the high street, but Sony may finally be in a place where it needs to be. It has films from Twentieth Century Fox, Lionsgate, MGM, Paramount, Sony Pictures, Starz Digital Media, Disney, NBC Universal and Warner Brothers, as well as from local studios. But you can’t help thinking that the tanker still hasn’t completely turned and the name Qriocity is not yet a brand in its own right and appears to be a weak word to try to build one around.

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