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PlayStation Network Accounts Rebranded As Sony Entertainment Network Accounts

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Is Sony beginning to phase out the PlayStation brand? Some believe that a subtle rebranding effort, announced on Monday, is an early step by Sony to distance itself from the PlayStation name.

Starting on February 7, Sony's PlayStation Network (PSN) accounts will be called Sony Entertainment Network (SEN) accounts.

Although the "rebranding" includes changes to the Terms of Service, User Agreement and Privacy Policy, Sony said in a press release that the PSN account name change will not affect current PSN account information, usernames or passwords. On February 7, users will be asked to agree to the new policies before they can access their accounts.

According to Geekosystem, the goal of this sudden rebranding is to consolidate user accounts across all Sony services.

In the press release, Sony said of the plan, "This helps us get closer to our goal of establishing a global comprehensive network platform of services across games, movies, music and more, all accessible from one convenient account." Previously, PSN users logged into the gaming network using a PSN-branded account. After the change, users will be able to access both gaming and entertainment services from one SEN account.

According to Game Spot, the Sony Entertainment Network debuted in August, when the PlayStation Network, Qriocity, and Sony's music on-demand service were folded into one entity.

The consolidated SEN account will let users access Music Unlimited, Video Unlimited, PlayMemories Online and other Sony products. A software update for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita devices will give users to access newly unified account. PlayStation Portable device won't be getting a software update at this time.

Some speculate that the renaming of PSN accounts may reflect Sony's attempt to distance itself from a cyber attack that led Sony to take the PSN and Qriocity network offline for almost a month in April 2011. Writes VentureBeat, "Newly appointed CEO Kaz Hirai has stated that there will be no PlayStation 4 reveal at this year’s E3. His careful wording has led others to question whether the next Sony console will even carry the 'PlayStation' name."

The hack attack exposed usernames, addresses, credit card numbers and more personal data belonging to more than 100,000 PSN and Qriosity users around the world, but Sony kept the breach a secret for almost a week. According to Information Week, the first class action lawsuit was filed against Sony within days of Sony announcing that the network's security had been compromised. A quote from the lawsuit published in Information Week, states that Sony, "failed to encrypt data and establish adequate firewalls to handle a server intrusion contingency, failed to provide prompt and adequate warnings of security breaches, and unreasonably delayed in bringing the PSN service back on line."

In October, Sony briefly locked 93,000 PSN accounts after the company noticed an unusually high rate of failed login attempts. Affected users were allowed to log on with new passwords. According to Sony spokesperson Sean Yoneda, who spoke with the AP, the more recent attack was not as serious as the previous one. Yoneda said, "[T]his time around, there was no intrusion on our servers. This was ... taking someone else's identity and trying to use that to access our services."

On April 1, 2011, Kazuo Hirai will take over for Howard Stringer as President and CEO. According to Apple Insider, Hirai has big plans for Sony which include shifting the focus from hardware to software and services.

Sony has had a tough year thanks to falling TV sales, natural disasters and a stronger yen. The Japanese giant recently reported a December quarter loss of $1.2 billion, and as reported by Bloomberg Businessweek, the company "more than doubled its annual loss forecast for the year ending March 31."

A Sony rep was not immediately available to comment.

The PSN outage made our list of the worst flop and failures in tech from 2011. Check out the slideshow (below) to see the rest of the worst of last year.

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