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Sony brings iTunes baiting video-on-demand service to Britain

Sony looks to challenge Apple with a new movie and music downloading service, which offers an alternative to iTunes that will rely on the popularity of the Playstation 3 and Blu-ray players to be successful.

Sony is launching its Qriocity premium video streaming service in the UK, hogging some of the buzz created by the launch of Apple TV.

At the IFA 2010 show in Berlin, Sony said it was expanding the service from the US to Britain in the autumn. It has been available in across the Atlantic since April.

What Qriocity (pronounced curiosity) does is allow Sony hardware such as the PlayStation 3, Bravia TVs and Blu-ray disc players to be used to download and stream videos and movies. Content would be from partnerships Sony has made with companies such as Warner, MGM, Paramount and 20th Century Fox.

It's also releasing a new service called Music Unlimited, which allows you to access stored and synchronised music through a cloud-based service with the same Sony equipment.

It has to contend with the fact Apple's iTunes is used on many other devices like PCs, smart phones and iPods. Sony will not be able to touch these markets as the services only works on its own hardware, so it is difficult to see how Qriocity and Music Unlimited can grow away from Apple.

It's not the first time that Sony has tried to compete with the might of Apple and iTunes. It offered a service called Connect which offered music downloads, but this was shut down in 2008 due to problems like the fact it only worked on Windows PCs and playback was only limited to Sony devices. Previous to that was SonicStage, but the least said about that, the better.

But Sony does have the PlayStation 3, as the brand is enduringly popular with millions of 'proper' gamers, rather than those who regular play Apple App store games. Premium video and music services straight from their consoles could be a winner, and make Apple TV kind of redundant for them.

It also has the dominant next-generation format in Blu-ray. This could really depend on whether physical formats such as Blu-ray continued to be popular in a time where similar quality video can be downloaded over your Internet connections. If you didn't care about physical media, then you could simply use the Apple TV option.

Does Qricocity appeal to you? Does it offer a good alternative away from iTunes? Let us know.

Image credit: Sony