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Sony to peddle trade-in scheme to speed upgrade cycle

Incentives to encourage take-up of new tech, recycling

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Exclusive Sony is planning to offer a trade-in scheme targeting Blu-ray Disc player owners later this year.

Details regarding how the programme will work remain unknown, but the plan will aim to entice punters who bought Sony's early BD players to upgrade to new, more capable models, sources familiar with the scheme have told Reg Hardware.

Two factors have persuaded the consumer electronics giant to consider such a move: European regulations governing the disposal of manufactured goods, and Sony's drive to promote its latest products' internet connectivity.

European Union law makes manufacturers responsible for disassembly and, where possible, recycling the products they offer. Companies like Sony have to come up with strategies to ensure this takes place and that less unwanted kit ends up in landfill. One way to do so is to provide incentives for consumers to return old kit, such as a rebate on the purchase of a new model.

Sony, meanwhile, will this year be pushing its Internet TV technology, a front end for online content that it is already including in its latest Blu-ray players and is adding to its 2010 Bravia HD TVs, which go on sale this month.

Past BD players have network connectivity to allow their firmware to be updated, but they "lack the silicon" to support Internet TV.

Internet TV presents online content, including YouTube, Lovefilm, BBC iPlayer, Five.TV and the like, on the small screen, accessed through players' XMB interface using a standard remote control.

The feature will this year gain paid-for content delivered through the PlayStation Network, though it'll appear under a different brand. Sony wants to give users every opportunity to buy and rent movies this way, and one way to do so is to entice folk with incompatible BD players to upgrade by offering them an easy way to do so. It also gets consumers used to sending their old kit back to Sony.

At this stage, it's not known when the trade-in programme will be started beyond some time later this year, or what kind of incentive Sony will offer. Discussion of the project has so far centred on Blu-ray products, but it may be extended to other goods. Whatever, it's an interesting alternative to the traditional 'chuck out the old, buy something new' approach to upgrading. ®

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