IPTV: Heavyweights Join Forces in Japan

Not all technology advances that take hold in Japan make it across the Pacific to the United States, but in many ways, the country is a bellwether for what we can expect to see next. And if TV Portal Service is any indication, IPTV may be a significant factor over here sooner than we might have expected. Sony has joined forces with Matsushita (Panasonic), Sharp, Toshiba, and Hitachi, to create an Internet-based service that delivers video content directly to your TV.

The service announced this week that they will start a video-on-demand (VOD) offering that will give users access to about 2,000 movies and other titles. The cost to the viewer will be about $2 apiece, and the rental fee will cover a period of time in which the content may be viewed as many times as you choose.

This fee compares favorably with other movie online rental operations. If the system can be made as simple as VOD offerings from cable, then this approach could have a strong appeal to American viewers, especially as the numbers of broadband Internet connections and home networks grow. IPTV still has the potential to be the most disruptive technology for video entertainment of any on the horizon.