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Sony to Release Wireless Internet Gizmo

TechnologySony Corp. will announce Tuesday a new pocket-sized gadget for instant messaging and other Internet-based communications, hoping to tap into the growth of wireless networks across college campuses, other public spaces and within homes.

The new innovation of Sony is called the Sony mylo, analyst said that slated for availability in September at a retail price of about $350, is a first-of-its-kind product that uses Wi-Fi networks. And though it could handle Web-based e-mail services, it doesn't support corporate e-mail programs; it is not a cellular phone and thus doesn't carry monthly service fees.

A mylo user could chat away or browse the Web, as long as a Wi-Fi network is accessible. It is known that the slim, oblong-shaped gizmo that has a 2.4-inch display and slides open to expose a thumb keyboard is specifically geared toward young, mainstream consumers for messaging and Internet-based calls, commonly known as VoIP or Voice over IP calls, reports said.

Sony said that the mylo which stands for "my life online," will be marketed toward 18- to 24-year-olds, the multitasking generation that relies heavily on instant messaging and is already viewing e-mail as possibility.

Sony, the consumer electronics giant has partnered with Yahoo Inc. and Google Inc. to integrate their instant-messaging services. Also looking to expand mylo's support to other services as well, most notably the leading messaging provider, Time Warner Inc.'s America Online, analyst said, and added Sony has also teamed with eBay Inc.'s Skype VoIP service, which offers free voice chats for its registered users..

It can play music, photos and videos that are stored on its internal 1 gigabyte of flash memory or optional Memory Stick card. It also can stream songs between mylo users within the same network, as long as the users grant permission to share their music files. The so-called personal communicator doubles as a portable media player.

The mylo has been dubbed as a "unique, compelling" product, but said it might fare better at a lower price of $299 and with added partners such as AOL, Danielle Levitas, an industry analyst at market researcher IDC, said.

Levitas said the wireless technology isn't ubiquitous enough yet to help Sony break mylo out of a niche market, in addition, though Wi-Fi is spreading across colleges, coffee houses, airports and even entire cities, Levitas also added "You need enough Wi-Fi out there to make this a compelling product to reach a wider audience."

John Kodera, a director of product marketing at Sony, said, "Our mylo personal communicator lets you have the fun parts of a computer in the palm of your hand," still, Sony is betting that mylo will draw great interest not just among college students but also among households where youngsters might be fighting over the use of a computer just for chatting or Web surfing.

Jron Magcale


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