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Sony to launch online service

  Sony is preparing to announce one of its biggest moves of 2002 this Thursday, its official plans to launch an online service for the PS2 in North America. With Microsoft promoting their online capabilities, Sony believes this will be an excellent deterrent to the Xbox's future plans. Sony said on Wednesday it will hold a news conference with senior management on Thursday afternoon, and a well-placed source confirmed speculations of an online announcement.

   The PS2 does not have built-in network capabilities, though it has an expansion port, as well as two USB connection ports and a high-speed FireWire port on front. Sony has announced a kit, available in the United States this June, with a 40-gigabyte hard drive and keyboard to allow users to write software for the Linux open-source operating system. However this kit has no online capabilities. Microsoft's Xbox console has a built-in Ethernet port and has said it would begin to roll out online services this year.

   Industry analysts have also expected that Sony might cut the price of the console this May at the video game business's annual trade show, E3. Our own Editor in Chief, Arnold Katayev, had this to say on the topic, "Following the parallel timeline of the original Playstation's price reductions, E3 2002 is highly expected to feature the announcement of the PS2's price drop to a very competitive $199."

3/6/2002 Matt Stensrud

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