Sony Using Studios to Sell Blu-ray, PS3, and TVs

If it had owned a movie studio back then, would Betamax have defeated VHS?

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Optional module enables Sony TVs to connect to the Internet.

It's kind of scary to think of the power that Sony has. In a world where content is king, the Japanese giant has a huge advantage over competing electronics makers. Only Sony additionally owns music and movie studios.

Now Sony plans to use its movie studio to sell its TVs and game consoles. The company yesterday launched a service for selling downloads to Sony game consoles, with other hardware to follow. More important, Sony has said some of its movies will be available for downloading before the company sells them on DVD.

That's a big move for the studio. Hollywood has viewed downloads as promising but carefully protected disk sales as its cash cow. Now Sony's willing to risk some disk sales to sell its TVs and PlayStation 3's.

We should've seen it coming. Sony already used its movie studio to win the war over high-def disk formats. Toshiba had to win each studio to its HD DVD format. Sony's Blu-ray had Sony Pictures firmly in its camp.

It's notable that Sony bought the former Columbia Pictures in 1989. That's just after Sony finally conceded defeat in an earlier format war.

If Sony had bought the studio earlier, would we all have been using Betamax instead of VHS?