Japanese multinational technology corporation Sony Corporation and American multinational technology company Microsoft said on 16 May that they had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to “partner on new innovations to enhance customer experiences in their direct-to-consumer entertainment platforms and AI solutions”.
The two companies said they would explore joint development of “future cloud solutions” in Microsoft Azure, the company’s cloud computing service for building, testing, deploying, and managing applications and services through Microsoft-managed data centers. These solutions would “support their respective game and content-streaming services”.
In addition, Sony and Microsoft said they planned to “explore the use of current Microsoft Azure datacenter-based solutions for Sony’s game and content streaming services” and to collaborate “in the areas of semiconductors and AI [artificial intelligence]”.
For semiconductors, this includes potential joint development of new intelligent image sensor solutions, the companies said, integrating Sony’s image sensors with Microsoft’s AI technology in a “hybrid manner across cloud and edge”. By leveraging this combined technology, they hope to “provide enhanced capabilities for enterprise customers”.
In terms of AI, they said they would “explore incorporation of Microsoft’s . . . AI platform and tools in Sony consumer products” to provide what they described as “highly intuitive and user-friendly AI experiences”. They did not offer any details of what these products and experiences might practically look like or how they might function for users.
By working together, the two companies aim to “to deliver more enhanced entertainment experiences for their worldwide customers”, which they said would “include building better development platforms for the content creator community”.
“Sony is a creative entertainment company with a solid foundation of technology,” Kenichiro Yoshida, president and CEO of Sony, said in a statement. “We collaborate closely with a multitude of content creators that capture the imagination of people around the world, and through our cutting-edge technology, provide the tools to bring their dreams and vision to reality.”
“PlayStation® itself came about through the integration of creativity and technology,” he added. “Our mission is to seamlessly evolve this platform as one that continues to deliver the best and most immersive entertainment experiences, together with a cloud environment that ensures the best possible experience, anytime, anywhere.”
He noted that – although they have competed in some areas – the two companies have been business partners for “many years” and said he believed their “joint development of future cloud solutions will contribute greatly to the advancement of interactive content”.
“Additionally, I hope that in the areas of semiconductors and AI, leveraging each company’s cutting-edge technology in a mutually complementary way will lead to the creation of new value for society,” he concluded.
“Sony has always been a leader in both entertainment and technology, and the collaboration we announced today builds on this history of innovation,” Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, added. “Our partnership brings the power of Azure and Azure AI to Sony to deliver new gaming and entertainment experiences for customers.”
The two companies said that they would share additional information about the partnership when it becomes available.