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Sony Can Integrate Grouper into New Strategy

Informitv reports that Sony Pictures Entertainment has acquired Grouper Networks, which provides the Grouper user-generated video site, for $65 million. Traditional media companies are increasingly seeing value in online video services although they have yet to demonstrate a viable business model.

Consumers are spending more and more time on sites like Grouper, and as one of the world's largest creators of entertainment, we want to be where the audiences are, said Michael Lynton, the chairman and chief executive of Sony Pictures Entertainment, a subsidairy of the Sony Corporation.

Many people in the Grouper community use Sony cameras to create videos and Sony VAIO computers and mobile devices to store and view them, he said. It makes sense to complete the circle by having Grouper be a part of Sony Pictures Entertainment, which itself creates so much content for people around the world.

A site like Grouper allows people to showcase their creativity to a vast audience, he continued. It's like a virtual, global audition, and a great source of entertainment.

Grouper was founded in 2004 by Josh Felser and Dave Samuel, who both previously founded, an early streaming music site which they subsequently sold to AOL for $320 million. Grouper was originally created as a peer-to-peer platform for sharing videos. The site claims to have over 8 million unique users a month, and over half a million registered members.

Users can browse videos and easily post them to a wide variety of third-party web sites. The Grouper peer-to-peer video sharing network enables downloads of high quality video shared by its members. Users can also edit and upload material and download to portable devices like the Sony PSP.

I believe that this latest move by Sony is a tremendous opportunity to integrate Grouper into a broader new business strategy that incorporates Sony cameras and camcorders -- along the lines of Apple's combination of the iTunes service with the iPod devices. Furthermore, the Vegas multimedia software family from Sony adds yet another dimension to their ability to offer an end-to-end solution for the growing number of consumer generated content producers.

Also, I'm wondering, where does the innovative Sony ACIDplanet site fit into this evolving mix?

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