Sony’s Multi-Platform Content Play Is A Qriocity

Sony’s long-held ambition of providing a content service available to its game console and other devices is finally coming together.

At the IFA show in Berlin on Wednesday, CEO Howard Stringer said the cloud-based *Sony* Online Services (SOLS) platform, which was hinted at in November, is being christened Qriocity, and will offer both unlimited music and on-demand movies to compatible, connected devices.

— Qriocity already quietly launched in the U.S. in April with VOD movies from 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, NBC Universal (NYSE: GE) International Television Distribution, Paramount Pictures, Sony (NYSE: SNE) Pictures, The Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS) Company and Warner Bros.

— On Wednesday, Sony said this “Video On Demand powered by Qriocity” would be made available in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK from the autumn, and that “Music Unlimited powered by Qriocity“, with “millions” of songs, would be added “by year’s end”.

Sony says, “over time”, it will also add games and e-books to the “powered by Qriocity” suite.

Right now, Qriocity’s movies service is accessible by four Bravia TVs, three Blu-ray players and two home theater systems. But the music service will also be available through PlayStation 3, VAIO computers and portable devices.

So Sony’s multi-platform play is Qriocity. Or is it? Where this leaves Sony Internet TV and Bravia Internet Video, the existing brands for services on Sony’s connected Bravia TVs is unclear. As it stands, Qriocity would likely sit as a service within Sony Internet TV, which has over European 30 VOD TV partners on-board, Stringer said in Berlin.

And what about PlayStation Network (PSN)? Right now, PS3 users find movie rentals tucked away in the Videos section of the PlayStation Store. With Qriocity, Sony is giving content services a higher profile in the same way Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) is introducing Zune movies and music to Xbox 360.

In Sony’s 2009 annual report, Stringer had said Qriocity is actually “based upon PSN” and would include “television programming”.

Qriocity must be the suite that leverages Sony’s breadth to finally introduce entertainment content to its wide range of devices…

That’s all very well for folks who own mostly Sony devices, but it doesn’t sound like it takes account of the customer who, for example, owns a Sony TV, a Compaq computer and an Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) phone. Indeed, manufacturer neutrality would help the Sony Music Entertainment and Sony Pictures reach even more consumers.

“In the future, Qriocity will be a service available through third parties parties as well, though it’s not clear how that will work,” Engadget reported from Stringer’s announcement.