PlayStation wins more Net support

Graphics software maker Macromedia and network equipment giant Cisco Systems sign up to improve the Net access and features of Sony's gaming system.

Sony on Wednesday said it has linked arms with graphics software maker Macromedia and network equipment giant Cisco Systems to improve the Net access and features of Sony's PlayStation 2 gaming system.

Sony, which has cut several deals this week for its popular game console, said it is working with Cisco to include its software that supports an Internet technology standard made to increase the number of devices that can connect to the Web. Cisco's software will be incorporated into PlayStation 2 to give game users broader access to the Internet.

Like other technology providers, Cisco has been busy working to support a new standard for assigning IP (Internet Protocol) numbers, which all devices need to hook into the Net. The new IPv6 standard is expected to affect many Web users as the technology is adopted over the next few years. The newest version supports many more IP addresses than the previous standard, IPv4.

As part of the agreement with Sony, Cisco initially intends to provide PlayStation 2 with support for IPv4. The two companies also said they plan to incorporate the latest standard into the game console, with the goal of giving consumers a richer, higher-speed connection to the Internet to access Web-based content services. Cisco's software will also be folded into the developer's kit for PlayStation 2 so that game developers can create speedy entertainment content.

Under its agreement with Macromedia, Sony will bring the software maker's Flash Player software to PlayStation 2. Flash, an easy-to-use animation tool created by Macromedia, has grown popular on the Internet, and the company has been on a mission to bring the technology to other devices such as gaming systems and wireless products.

Macromedia's partnership with Sony is part of a larger strategy to expand the use of Flash beyond the desktop PC. Earlier this year, the company released to developers its Flash software for handhelds based on Microsoft's Pocket PC operating system.

Sony this week announced a string of new partnerships. The company has been busy touting its latest game console as software behemoth Microsoft aims to hog the limelight with its upcoming Xbox gaming system. Microsoft just announced that the machine will be available Nov. 8 in North America, at a price of $299.99.

Sony is expected Wednesday to reveal a pact with streaming media giant RealNetworks to bring streaming audio and video to PlayStation 2. The nonexclusive agreement is set to be announced at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) gaming conference this week in Los Angeles.

On Tuesday, Sony and America Online forged a similar alliance to bring popular AOL Internet features such as instant messaging, chat and e-mail to the PlayStation 2 gaming system.