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Sony Sells LCD Venture Stake To Samsung

Sony Corp (NYSE:SNE) will sell its LCD venture stake with Samsung Electronics to the company for $940 million as it tries to shore up losses in its TV business.

The venture cut its capital by 15% earlier this summer an industry sources had said Sony was negotiating an exit with the intent to switch to cheaper outsourcing for flat screens for their TVs. Meanwhile, Samsung will push ahead with next-generation displays.

“In terms of direction it is a positive (for Sony),” said Keita Wakabayashi, an analyst at Mito Securities in Tokyo, about the deal. “But if they are making a loss on the sale, one could ask why they didn’t make this decision sooner.”

“Their biggest problem is that they are not making a profit even though they don’t have many plants,” he said.

Sony warned last month of a fourth straight year of net losses with its TV unit losing $2.2 billion on falling demand and a surging yen.

Sony has been trying to strengthen their position in other markets as well including the smartphone market. Back in October, Sony took control of its mobile phone joint venture with Ericcson for $1.5 billion.

The company is hoping to take advantage of its music and video content and compatibility with TVs and tablet computers as it tries to catch up with market leaders such as Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG).

Google (GOOG) Launches Online Music Store

Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) unveiled its new online music store on Wednesday as the online search engine company makes a move to challenge market leaders Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN).

The new music service from Google will include millions of songs from record labels EMI, Sony Music, and Universal. Music from the Warner Group will not be included. Google’s new service is primarily a music download store in a similar mold to Apple Inc’s eight year-old iTunes Music Store, the biggest music retailer in the world.

Google has signed up a number of independent labels as well and there was the vague promise of a potential Warner deal in the future. For now, Google is differentiating itself from the competition by allowing artists who self-release their music to directly upload their songs for purchase on Google Music and set their own pricing schemes.

Google, which introduced the service at an event at the Mr. Brainwash Studios in Hollywood, California on Wednesday, said consumers in the United States will be able to purchase the music through its Android Market, which offers smart-phone apps, electronic books and videos.

Google Music also lets users share the music they’ve bought with friends via the Google+ social networking platform. Once you’ve purchased a song or album from the Android Market, you can then send a stream to a pal using Google+ and they can listen to the tune once for free. The service, with prices similar to those on iTunes, will also be offering a free song of the day and is currently touting exclusive tracks from a number of artists, including Coldplay, the Rolling Stones and Busta Rhymes.

Shares of Google were trading at 611.10 at 8:42 am ET in the pre-market.

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