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Sony Intros Qriocity Media Streaming Service

Cloud-based video and music service will challenge Apple's iTunes Store when it launches in Europe this fall.

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In a direct challenge to Apple's iTunes store, Sony said Wednesday it will launch a video and music streaming service called Qriocity, beginning this fall in five European countries.

Just as Apple markets its products and services through its proprietary devices, the cloud-based service will be available for Sony's PlayStation 3, portable media players, and other internet-capable devices including HDTVs, Blu-ray players, and Vaio PCs. Qriocity will be offered in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

The announcement was made at the IFA consumer electronics conference in Berlin. No pricing details for Qriocity were given. "We are excited to offer our customers high-quality, cloud-based entertainment experiences across many of Sony's network-enabled devices," said Kazuo Hirai, president of Sony's networked products & services group, in a statement. "Services 'powered by Qriocity' will revolutionize the way that users play, listen, watch, share, communicate, learn, discover, and create their digital entertainment content."

The video-on-demand portion of the service, which was launched in April in the United States, will offer hundreds of film titles from studios including 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, Lionsgate, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Walt Disney, Warner Bros., and Paramount Pictures. Sony did not specify which record labels it would partner with for the music streaming service. The company did say that Qriocity would find music users enjoy based on their listening preferences, similar to services like, which keeps a record of what people listen to on various players and gives recommendations.

The PS3 gaming console has about 54 million registered accounts, according to Fujio Nishida, head of Sony's European operations, giving it a huge target audience for the Qriocity service. In related news, the electronics giant also said a 3D upgrade will be available for the PS3 in October. Although Sony has a strong user base, Apple earlier this year witnessed the 10 billionth song download from iTunes.

Sony first made a foray into the digital media market in 2004 when it launched Connect, an online music store that gave consumers the ability to purchase and download music online to a wide variety of its portable electronic devices. But the service was phased out in 2007.

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