The Wall Street Journal tips us off to the obvious: “People familiar with the situation” have indicated Sony’s getting into the video download business. Not really a big surprise considering they’re a studio and they’re selling video Walkmen, PSPs (already announced video service), PS3s, and network-connected televisions.
While that is a good move, it also leaves Sony playing in a highly commoditized market, and its best bet to make money from video downloading is by selling hardware.
It’s yet to be seen just how commoditized video downloads are… Heck NBC (may have) dumped Apple’s iTunes and others like HBO don’t have online offerings (yet). An era of exclusivity could be upon us. Perhaps NBC is reserving content for their upcoming Hulu portal. Additionally, Sony has more leverage as a movie and television studio. Given the whole Blu-ray/HD DVD debacle, I could see Sony limiting their content to their services and hardware.
At the very least, I’m looking forward to Sony beefing up the PS3’s online services – to better compete with Microsoft’s Xbox Live and Marketplace. (Though, I’d also like to see MS mature their 360 video download interface. There’s got to be something better than scrolling through long text lists.)