Sony seeks deal for e-mail news

Sony Interactive is in talks with a number of media owners over the supply of news feeds for a free e-mail service, called FriendFactory, which launches this week.

Sony is in discussions with the BBC, Condé Nast, Dennis Publishing, PA, and Reuters, as well as radio stations about the service.

The new concept offers PC users free news feeds in the form of “e-notes” – messages which show instant audio, text and picture information. For example, a football fan could receive instant news from a BBC feed about games or new signings through a message which flashes up on the computer screen. Or a business woman in the travel industry could be sent instant Reuters information relevant to her sector.

Sony will finance the service through advertising. Companies will be able to target PC users with offer-driven e-notes, which are effectively an electronic version of direct mail. Users fill in detailed questionnaires when they sign up for the service, allowing advertisers to target specific demographic groups.

Chris Warrenden, head of FriendFactory for Sony Interactive, says: “There are all sorts of applications – a soap powder manufacturer could send a coupon to women aged 25 to 35 in the London area which the user can print off and redeem at the local supermarket. But we want to make sure the message is relevant and offer driven.”

The service is being launched concurrently in the UK and Germany. Other European markets will follow later in the year. v Sony announced this week that it was considering selling part of Sony Pictures Entertainment through a public offering or by entering a joint venture.

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