By Mylene Mangalindan
Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal
Yahoo Inc. signed a broad marketing and e-commerce agreement with Sony Corp., a deal that advances Yahoo’s push for corporate partners and could point to new alliances in the future.
Yahoo said it will help Sony Corp. of America to develop and market a co-branded Web site called “Sony on My Yahoo” for consumers interested in Sony products and services. That site will become the start page for Sony’s Internet access service, Sony Style Connect, that was announced late last year. Plus, Sony’s Vaio computers will be loaded with software so new purchasers can quickly register for personalized Sony and Yahoo services and content.
Financial terms of the multiyear agreement weren’t disclosed. But the deal, which has been under discussion for nearly two years, signals a closer relationship between two of the best-known consumer brands. Sony Music Entertainment is already collaborating with Yahoo to distribute music on pressplay, an online music-subscription service.
At one point, however, the two companies had talked of a more expansive agreement that included an investment by Yahoo in Sony entertainment businesses, according to a person familiar with the matter. When asked about the investment prospect, Howard Stringer, chairman and chief executive officer of Sony Corp. of America, said: “We’ve gotten what we want out of this.” Added Terry Semel, chief executive of Yahoo: “This is the only format we’ve been discussing,” referring to the current partnership.
Yahoo President Jeff Mallett said the company will continue to sign agreements with other entertainment companies. Analysts said the agreement exemplifies how Yahoo intends to sell its entire suite of services to new and existing partners.
“The most important part of this deal for us is to utilize Yahoo’s know-how and infrastructure beyond the purchase of the device,” said Rob Wiesenthal, executive vice president of Sony Broadband Entertainment. “Digital services are the glue between our customer and their devices.”
Yahoo will prominently promote SonyStyle.com — Sony’s Web site (www.sonystyle.com ) for selling TVs, phones, DVD players and computer-related products — on its shopping Web site and other areas of its network. Yahoo also will advise Sony on the development of a U.S. group portal, an online gateway to link the Web community using Sony devices. The two companies also plan to develop online marketing programs on Yahoo’s network for movies from Sony Pictures Entertainment.
— Martin Peers contributed to this article.