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Sony Opens ‘Dream World’ Expo

September 13, 2002

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YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) _ A digital television set that learns its owner’s tastes and a dancing baby-sized robot are among new gadgets being displayed by Sony Corp. at an exhibition that offers a dazzling, and perhaps a little unsettling, glimpse of the future as seen by the Japanese electronics and entertainment giant.

``Sony Dream World 2002″ opens this weekend in the port city of Yokohama and pictures a day when Sony-made machines bombard people practically everywhere with Sony singers, games and movies through always-on broadband links.

``The broadband revolution is now happening,″ Sony President Kunitake Ando said at a preview showing Thursday for retailers and the press. ``Through Sony Music Entertainment and Sony Pictures Entertainment, we can drive demand for network content as well, and we are starting to make that happen now.″

One of the latest products on display is CoCoon, a tuner about the size of a DVD player that connects digital television sets to the Internet by broadband.

Equipped with a hard disc that can record 100 hours of video, CoCoon can search for and automatically record programs under key words _ for example, ``soccer″ or the title of a TV show. Over time, the machine learns what you liked to watch and will start recording shows without being told.

It’s set to go on sale in Japan in November for about 130,000 yen ($1,078) and planned sometime later for overseas markets. Sony is hoping to sell 5,000 CoCoon sets a month.

Sony is planning additional services for CoCoon such as e-mail, Internet downloads and links from mobile phones to start recording a show away from home. Future models will include a DVD recorder and other features.

Dream World also includes displays of Sony’s entertainment businesses, such as a song and dance act by its humanoid baby robot and performances by Sony’s musical stars.

Satoru Oyama, analyst with Lehman Brothers, believes Sony has big marketing potential, although some time is needed before it can produce significant profits from linking entertainment businesses to electronics manufacturing under a powerful brand.

``The company’s vision is very easy to understand. Sony has a concrete business model with a straightforward philosophy,″ Oyama said. ``And it’s a company that can create its own market.″

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