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Photos by Andrew Thompson for Technically Philly.
Comcast and Sony have opened Sony Style Comcast Labs, a retail store and electronics destination featuring Sony products and Comcast services, in the lower-level concourse of the Comcast Center in Center City.
Sony laptops, televisions, music players, and more are on sale in the store, with promotional ties being made to Comcast’s Internet, cable, and phone services.
But given the global economic slowdown, is this the right time to open a retail store with high-ticket consumer electronics?
“They have low-end to high-end, and the goal of this store was more of an experiential type of thing for Comcast and for Sony,” Comcast spokeswoman Mary Nell Westbrook said.
“From a Comcast perspective, you can just as easily walk out with one of our economy packages as you can with one of our high-end HD packages.”
However it turns out, one thing is for sure. Customers won’t be walking out with one of several devices on display that are not currently for sale to home entertainment geeks. The devices in Comcast Labs instead offers consumers a chance to see what the companies have in store for the future.
Story continues with photos from Technically Philly’s visit, after the jump.
[singlepic id=5 w=280 float=right]The first, an enhanced cordless telephone manufactured by Thomson Electronics, demonstrates how future devices will integrate with Smartzone, a Web-based communications center provided by Comcast. The device gives users access to e-mail, visual voicemail, Yellow Pages, SMS, and instant messaging. Westbrook says that the device will be available to consumers later this year.
Last week, Comcast announced that it had become third-largest residential phone service provider in the country, after only 4 years in the telephone business. Networks are eying the market and trying to make home devices more compelling. Verizon announced its Verizon Hub home communication system in January.
The store is also demonstrating Sony’s first tru2way television. Comcast has worked with Panasonic to get tru2way-compatible televisions on the market in Denver and Chicago, and Sony’s entrance gives more leverage to the technology that is looking to rid entertainment centers of the all-to-familiar, complicated cable box. Instead, tru2way integrates and hides cable box technology within the television itself.
[singlepic id=8 w=275 float=right]Last, Comcast is showing off a live demo of its 100Mbps cable Internet service, which it hopes to roll out to consumers in the future. Store visitors can test the high-speed connectivity on several laptops in the store. Westbrook did not say when the service would be available to consumers.
But with many large-portfolio electronics companies competing amongst each other to create products that rely on operator services such as ones Comcast provides, why partner with Sony?
“A lot of it had to do with a personal relationship between [Comcast CEO Brian Roberts] and [Sony CEO] Sir Howard Stringer, and second, they’re one of the premiere brands to be associated with from an electronics standpoint,” Westbrook said.
“And frankly, our stuff just works beautifully on it.”
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Photos by Andrew Thompson.
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