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Sony stakes store claim in Silicon Valley

Sony Electronics to open latest concept store to attract and teach consumers about emerging technologies.

PALO ALTO, Calif.--Sony Electronics on Thursday will open a concept store here to attract and teach consumers about emerging technologies and products.

The store is one of 13 in the United States that the electronics giant plans to open by the end of its fiscal year in March 2005. The Palo Alto store is located in the Stanford Shopping Center.

As previously reported, Sony decided to open stores to educate consumers about new products and technologies that may be complicated to understand or use.

Sony joins a short but growing list of technology companies opening stores to attract and teach consumers. Others include Apple Computer and Samsung, which is also working to open retail stores.

Gateway recently shuttered its stores, citing administrative costs.

Sony has been carefully examining new markets that it deems will be appropriate for a store opening. Hoping to build off its strong brand, Sony Electronics plans to open more retail stores in the top 10 metropolitan markets in the United States.

The Stanford store is Sony's fifth concept store. The others are in Costa Mesa, Calif., Los Angeles, Boston and Houston.

Sony also has two large SonyStyle stores--one in San Francisco and another in New York City--selling electronic devices, music and DVDs.

The smaller stores, such as the one in Palo Alto, are called concept stores and are meant to be more of a showcase for consumers so they can come in, try out anything from DVD camcorders and DVD players to large-screen televisions, and see how different devices can be used together. The stores also will hold classes to demonstrate how to use the devices.