Sony and Microsoft have announced a new partnership that will see the two companies potentially working together to further develop cloud-based and AI technology. These developments could even find their way into future Sony PlayStation products.
Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella have confirmed a memorandum of understanding that will allow the two companies to explore joint development on cloud and AI technologies. Specifically, in finding ways to incorporate Microsoft's Azure cloud services in Sony products.
While the agreement appears to be broad, and affects divisions outside of gaming, this agreement will also include the two company's games sectors. Microsoft's press release specifically mentions exploring Microsoft Azure "to support their respective game and content-streaming services." It even sounds like Sony is considering moving its game and content-streaming services, i.e. PlayStation Now and PlayStation Vue, to Microsoft Azure Data Centers.
As for AI, the two companies are looking to explore whether Microsoft's AI platform and tools could be incorporated into Sony consumer products. This can include Sony's game consoles like the PlayStation 5, but also Sony cameras, TVs, and phones.
Though we tend to think of Sony and Microsoft strictly in terms of their game divisions, the two companies are broad consumer companies, with many different products and divisions. But as far as it relates to gaming, it sounds like Sony is looking to incorporate Microsoft's Azure cloud into its game streaming services.
Microsoft Azure is a cloud service and hosts a variety of different websites and online services. It's the second most popular cloud service behind Amazon Web Services. These cloud technologies are the backbone behind popular streaming services like Netflix. In the future Google's cloud service will power its Stadia streaming console, while Microsoft Azure will be used for Xbox's Xcloud streaming platform.
PlayStation Now is Sony's own video game streaming service, but despite coming out before services like Google Stadia, hasn't gained massive popularity. Partnering with a faster cloud service like Azure could improve the performance of PlayStation Now, and make it a more viable competitor to Stadia and Xcloud.
"For many years, Microsoft has been a key business partner for us, though of course the two companies have also been competing in some areas," says Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida in a press release. "I believe that our joint development of future cloud solutions will contribute greatly to the advancement of interactive content."