Here Comes The Sony Netman

The electronics giant thinks its future is as a player on the Web

Sony's latest hit product in Japan isn't a digital camera or a DVD player or even a MiniDisc recorder. It's PostPet, an e-mail program featuring animated teddy bears and bunnies that send and fetch messages. Nurture them with electronic snacks or a virtual pat on the head, and you'll be rewarded with a smile, possibly a dance. It's the best-selling software of its kind in Japan: Sony has sold more than 1.5 million copies in the past two years. Even better, PostPet enjoys an online fan club of 300,000 people who congregate on So-net, Sony's fast-growing Japanese online service, where they swap information, buy "kibbles" for their critters, and move on to browse in So-net's shopping mall.

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