Sony, DoCoMo to link PlayStation with cellphones

Sony Computer Entertainment and Japanese cellular giant NTT DoCoMo have announced they are to work together towards linking PlayStation console to NTT DoCoMo's mobile phones.

          Sony Computer Entertainment (SCEI) and NTT DoCoMo, Japan's largest cellular network operator, yesterday announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding to work together towards linking SCEI's PlayStation games console to NTT DoCoMo's cellphones.

          The two companies said they will work towards the development of an I-mode/PlayStation entertainment network that can be accessed through conventional I-mode telephones, new Java-enabled handsets and third generation Wideband CDMA terminals. The latter cellphones will be capable of transmitting data at up to 384Kbit/s against today's 9.6Kbit/s services, opening the door to much faster and richer multimedia services.

          The announcement comes two months after SCEI President Ken Kutaragi revealed a new portable version of the PlayStation and announced plans to sell connection kits to allow users to play network games via their cellphones.

          Tuesday's deal with NTT DoCoMo furthers the plans announced in early June and sets both companies on course for an initial service launch late this year, said Benjamin Gurnsey, a spokesman for SCEI. The cellphone connector kits are being slated for sale by the end of the year, and the actual service launch will then depend on the availability of content, he added.

          The company is also studying the possibility of producing kits and services that can link with terminals from other cellular carriers, although it chose NTT DoCoMo as its first partner because the company leads Japan's cellular market. Latest market data shows the company has a commanding 58 percent share of the domestic market, with just under 31 million subscribers. Its I-mode service is expected to attract its 10 millionth subscriber in the next seven days.

          Prior to the announcement, the two companies already worked together. In late March NTT DoCoMo announced plans to invest 240 million yen in PlayStation.com (Japan), an online retailer established earlier this year by SCEI.

          NTT DoCoMo, in Tokyo, can be found online at http://www.nttdocomo.co.jp/. SCEI, in Tokyo, can be reached via the Web at http://www.scei.co.jp/.

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