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Sony to become 'web department store'

Getting into e-banking too

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More flesh was added yesterday to the bones of Sony's scheme to dominate the digital world, when company president Nobuyuki Idei announced plans to set up an Internet-based bank, the first stage in Sony's plan to become a "web department store". Watch out, Amazon et al.

"We are not simply trying to provide distribution networks," said Idei. "What we are aiming for is to become a department store that handles everything that can be distributed through our digital networks." Look a couple of years down the line and you can easily see Net users buying music, movies and software through their SonyPlayStation, downloading it through a Sony broadband link, playing it all on Sony consumer electronics kit, paying for it through a Sony bank account. At this rate, we'll all be working for Sony.

In addition to the PlayStation-based digital content distribution system, Sony earlier this month said it will begin selling music online on 22 December. Sony's e-bank is set to open its virtual doors within two years, Idei said in a newspaper interview.

Given Sony's aim to begin selling digital content and software via the met sometime in 2001 - this is part of its PlayStation 2 plan - it's likely the bank will debut at the same time. A Sony spokesman told Reuters it didn't rule out the acquisition of an existing bank to provide the basis for the online venture. "Discussions will take place over the coming months in order to provide the best service in the field of finance for individual customers in the net era," he said. ®

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