2009-03-19 / Local & State

Comcast, Sony To Open Joint Retail Store

By DEBORAH YAO AP BUSINESS WRITER

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Despite the poor economy, Comcast Corp. and Sony Corp. plan to open a retail store Tuesday. The cable TV operator and the electronics company will use the store to showcase new technologies and products, taking a page from Apple Inc., as Microsoft Corp. might also soon try to do.

The store will be called Sony StyleComcast Labs and ensconced in the Comcast Center, the newest skyscraper in Philadelphia and headquarters of the nation's largest cable operator.

The store, more than 3,400 square feet, will show off such things as home broadband equipment that would enable people to surf at 100 megabits per second - roughly 17 times the average speed of cable broadband. Comcast plans to roll out service that fast by year's end.

Sony will display a new TV running Comcast's TV interface. It uses Tru2way, which is software that cable providers are rolling out to standardize their systems so the same set-top box can work with any cable operator. The store also will sell Sony PlayStations, laptops, cameras and camcorders.

Robert Faught, senior vice president of retail and alternate channel sales at Comcast, said Comcast has no plans for now to expand beyond the one store, since the cable service already is being marketed through major retailers. But that could change depending on how this store performs.

Sony has over 40 retail stores in the U.S., called Sony Style. The Comcast-Sony store will include Sony Style's "concierge counter," where staff will answer customers' questions about products.

Last month, Microsoft announced plans to open its own stores and hired an executive with experience at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. to oversee the venture. Microsoft likely would try to replicate Apple's success in raising the profile of its products through its stores. The timing and rollout of the stores have yet to be announced.

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