definition of Wikipedia
|Traded as||TYO: 6758
|Founded||7 May 1946|
|Headquarters||Minato, Tokyo, Japan|
|Key people||Sir Howard Stringer
(President & CEO)
|Services||Financial services, insurance, banking, credit finance and advertising agency|
|Revenue||¥6.395 trillion (2012)|
|Operating income||¥-70 billion (2012)|
|Net income||¥-456 billion (2012)|
|Total assets||¥13.29 trillion (2012)|
|Total equity||¥2.028 trillion (2012)|
|Subsidiaries||List of subsidiaries|
Sony Corporation (ソニー株式会社 Sonī Kabushiki Gaisha) (TYO: 6758, NYSE: SNE), commonly referred to as Sony, is a Japanese multinational conglomerate corporation headquartered in Kōnan Minato, Tokyo, Japan. It ranked 73 on the 2011 list of Fortune Global 500. Sony is one of the leading manufacturers of electronics products for the consumer and professional markets.
Sony Corporation is the electronics business unit and the parent company of the Sony Group, which is engaged in business through its four operating segments – Electronics (including video games, network services and medical business), Pictures, Music and Financial Services. These make Sony one of the most comprehensive entertainment companies in the world. Sony's principal business operations include Sony Corporation (Sony Electronics in the U.S.), Sony Pictures Entertainment, Sony Computer Entertainment, Sony Music Entertainment, Sony Mobile Communications (formerly Sony Ericsson), and Sony Financial. As a semiconductor maker, Sony is among the Worldwide Top 20 Semiconductor Sales Leaders.
The Sony Group (ソニー・グループ Sonī Gurūpu ) is a Japan-based corporate group primarily focused on the Electronics (such as AV/IT products and components), Game (such as PlayStation), Entertainment (such as motion pictures and music), and Financial Services (such as insurance and banking) sectors. The group consists of Sony Corporation (holding and electronics), Sony Computer Entertainment (game), Sony Pictures Entertainment (motion pictures), Sony Music Entertainment (music), Sony/ATV Music Publishing (music publishing), Sony Financial Holdings (financial services) and others.
Its founders Akio Morita and Masaru Ibuka derived the name from sonus, the Latin word for sound, and also from the English slang word "sonny", since they considered themselves to be "sonny boys", a loan word into Japanese which in the early 1950s connoted smart and presentable young men.
Sony found its beginning in the wake of World War II. In 1946, Masaru Ibuka started an electronics shop in a bomb-damaged department store building in Tokyo. The company had $530 in capital and a total of eight employees. The next year, he was joined by his colleague, Akio Morita, and they founded a company called Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo (Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation). The company built Japan's first tape recorder, called the Type-G.
In the early 1950s, Ibuka traveled in the United States and heard about Bell Labs' invention of the transistor. He convinced Bell to license the transistor technology to his Japanese company, for use in communications. Ibuka's company made the first commercially successful transistor radios. According to Schiffer, Sony's TR-63 radio "cracked open the U.S. market and launched the new industry of consumer microelectronics." By the mid 1950s, American teens had begun buying portable transistor radios in huge numbers, helping to propel the fledgling industry from an estimated 100,000 units in 1955 to 5 million units by the end of 1968.
Sony co-founder Akio Morita founded Sony Corporation of America in 1960. In the process, he was struck by the mobility of employees between American companies, which was unheard of in Japan at that time. When he returned to Japan, he encouraged experienced, middle-aged employees of other companies to reevaluate their careers and consider joining Sony. The company filled many positions in this manner, and inspired other Japanese companies to do the same. Moreover, Sony played a major role in the development of Japan as a powerful exporter during the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. It also helped to significantly improve American perceptions of "made in Japan" products. Known for its production quality, Sony was able to charge above-market prices for its consumer electronics and resisted lowering prices.
In 1971, Masaru Ibuka handed the position of president over to his co-founder Akio Morita. Sony began a life insurance company in 1979, one of its many peripheral businesses. Amid a global recession in the early 1980s, electronics sales dropped and the company was forced to cut prices. Sony's profits fell sharply. "It's over for Sony," one analyst concluded. "The company's best days are behind it." Around that time, Norio Ohga took up the role of president. He encouraged the development of the Compact Disc in the 1970s and 80s, and of the PlayStation in the early 1990s. Ohga went on to purchase CBS Records in 1988 and Columbia Pictures in 1989, greatly expanding Sony's media presence. Ohga would succeed Morita as chief executive officer in 1989.
Under the vision of co-founder Akio Morita and his successors, the company had aggressively expanded into new businesses. Part of its motivation for doing so was the pursuit of "convergence," linking film, music, and digital electronics via the Internet. This expansion proved unrewarding and unprofitable, threatening Sony's ability to charge a premium on its products as well as its brand name. In 2005, Howard Stringer replaced Nobuyuki Idei as chief executive officer, marking the first time that a foreigner has run a major Japanese electronics firm. Stringer helped to reinvigorate the company's struggling media businesses, encouraging blockbusters such as Spider-Man while cutting 9,000 jobs. He hoped to sell off peripheral business and focus the company again on electronics. Furthermore, he aimed to increase cooperation between business units, which he described as "silos" operating in isolation from one another. In a bid to provide a unified brand for its global operations, Sony introduced a slogan known as "make.believe" in 2009.
Despite some successes, the company faced continued struggles in the mid- to late-2000s. It became known for its stagnancy, with a fading brand name. In 2012 Kazuo Hirai began as CEO and president.
When Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo was looking for a romanized name to use to market themselves, they strongly considered using their initials, TTK. The primary reason they did not is that the railway company Tokyo Kyuko was known as TKK. The company occasionally used the acronym "Totsuko" in Japan, but during his visit to the United States, Morita discovered that Americans had trouble pronouncing that name. Another early name that was tried out for a while was "Tokyo Teletech" until Akio Morita discovered that there was an American company already using Teletech as a brand name.
The name "Sony" was chosen for the brand as a mix of two words. One was the Latin word "Sonus", which is the root of sonic and sound, and the other was "Sonny", a familiar term used in 1950s America to call a boy. The first Sony-branded product, the TR-55 transistor radio, appeared in 1955 but the company name did not change to Sony until January 1958.
At the time of the change, it was extremely unusual for a Japanese company to use Roman letters to spell its name instead of writing it in kanji. The move was not without opposition: TTK's principal bank at the time, Mitsui, had strong feelings about the name. They pushed for a name such as Sony Electronic Industries, or Sony Teletech. Akio Morita was firm, however, as he did not want the company name tied to any particular industry. Eventually, both Ibuka and Mitsui Bank's chairman gave their approval.
Sony has historically been notable for creating its own in-house standards for new recording and storage technologies, instead of adopting those of other manufacturers and standards bodies. The most infamous of these was the videotape format war of the early 1980s, when Sony marketed the Betamax system for video cassette recorders against the VHS format developed by JVC. In the end, VHS gained critical mass in the marketbase and became the worldwide standard for consumer VCRs and Sony adopted the format. While Betamax is for all practical purposes an obsolete format, a professional-oriented component video format called Betacam that was derived from Betamax is still used today, especially in the television industry, although far less so in recent years with the introduction of digital and high definition.
1982 saw the launch of Sony's professional Betacam videotape format and the collaborative Compact Disc (CD) format. In 1983 Sony introduced 90 mm micro diskettes (better known as 3.5-inch (89 mm) floppy disks), which it had developed at a time when there were 4" floppy disks and a lot of variations from different companies to replace the then on-going 5.25" floppy disks. Sony had great success and the format became dominant; 3.5" floppy disks gradually became obsolete as they were replaced by current media formats. In 1983 Sony launched the MSX, a home computer system, and introduced the world (with their counterpart Philips) to the Compact Disc (CD). In 1984 Sony launched the Discman series which extended their Walkman brand to portable CD products. In 1985 Sony launched their Handycam products and the Video8 format. Video8 and the follow-on hi-band Hi8 format became popular in the consumer camcorder market. In 1987 Sony launched the 4 mm DAT or Digital Audio Tape as a new digital audio tape standard.
In addition to developing consumer-based recording media, after the launch of the CD Sony began development of commercially based recording media. In 1986 they launched Write-Once optical discs (WO) and in 1988 launched Magneto-optical discs which were around 125MB size for the specific use of archival data storage.
In the early 1990s two high-density optical storage standards were being developed: one was the MultiMedia Compact Disc (MMCD), backed by Philips and Sony, and the other was the Super Density disc (SD), supported by Toshiba and many others. Philips and Sony abandoned their MMCD format and agreed upon Toshiba's SD format with only one modification based on MMCD technology, viz EFMPlus. The unified disc format was called DVD which was marketed in 1997.
Sony introduced the MiniDisc format in 1993 as an alternative to Philips DCC or Digital Compact Cassette. Since the introduction of MiniDisc, Sony has attempted to promote its own audio compression technologies under the ATRAC brand, against the more widely used MP3. Until late 2004, Sony's Network Walkman line of digital portable music players did not support the MP3 de facto standard natively, although the provided software SonicStage would convert MP3 files into the ATRAC or ATRAC3 formats.
In 1993, Sony challenged the industry standard Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound format with a newer and more advanced proprietary motion picture digital audio format called SDDS (Sony Dynamic Digital Sound). This format employed eight channels (7.1) of audio opposed to just six used in Dolby Digital 5.1 at the time. Unlike Dolby Digital, SDDS utilized a method of backup by having mirrored arrays of bits on both sides of the film which acted as a measure of reliability in case the film was partially damaged. Ultimately, SDDS has been vastly overshadowed by the preferred DTS (Digital Theatre System) and Dolby Digital standards in the motion picture industry. SDDS was solely developed for use in the theatre circuit; Sony never intended to develop a home theatre version of SDDS.
In 1998, Sony launched their Memory Stick format; flash memory cards for use in Sony lines of digital cameras and portable music players. It has seen little support outside of Sony's own products with Secure Digital cards (SD) commanding considerably greater popularity. This is due in part to the SD format's greater throughput (which allows faster recording and access), higher capacities, and significantly lower price per unit capacity compared to Memory Sticks available at the same time. Sony has made updates to the Memory Stick format with Memory Stick Duo and Memory Stick Micro.
Sony and Philips jointly developed the Sony-Philips digital interface format (S/PDIF) and the high-fidelity audio system SACD. The latter has since been entrenched in a format war with DVD-Audio. At present, neither has gained a major foothold with the general public. CDs are preferred by consumers because of ubiquitous presence of CD drives in consumer devices.
In 2004, Sony built upon the MiniDisc format by releasing Hi-MD. Hi-MD allows the playback and recording of audio on newly introduced 1 GB Hi-MD discs in addition to playback and recording on regular MiniDiscs. Recordings on the Hi-MD Walkmans can be transferred to and from the computer virtually unrestricted, unlike earlier NetMD. In addition to saving audio on the discs, Hi-MD allows the storage of computer files such as documents, videos and photos. Hi-MD introduced the ability to record CD-quality audio with a linear PCM recording feature. It was the first time since MiniDisc's introduction in 1992 that the ATRAC codec could be bypassed and lossless CD-quality audio could be recorded on the small discs.
Sony was one of the leading developers of the Blu-ray Disc optical disc format, the newest standard for disc-based content delivery. The format emerged as the market leader over the competing standard, Toshiba's HD DVD, after a 2 year-long format war. The first Blu-ray players became commercially available in 2006. By the end of 2007 the format had the backing of every major motion picture studio except Universal, Paramount, and DreamWorks. The Blu-ray format's popularity continued to increase, solidifying its position as the dominant HD media format, and Toshiba announced its decision to stop supporting HD DVD in 2008. Now, all major studios support Blu-ray and release their films on the format.
Sony Corporation is the electronics business unit and the parent company of the Sony Group. It primarily conducts strategic business planning of the group, research and development (R&D), planning, designing and marketing for electronics products. Its subsidiaries such as Sony EMCS Corporation, Sony Semiconductor Corporation and Sony Chemical & Information Device Corporation are responsible for manufacturing as well as product engineering and R&D for mass production (Sony EMCS is also responsible for customer service operations). In 2012, Sony incorporated rolled most of its consumer content services (including video, music, and gaming) into the Sony Entertainment Network.
Sony produced the world's first portable music player, the Walkman in 1979. This line fostered a fundamental change in music listening habits by allowing people to carry music with them and listen to music through lightweight headphones. Walkman originally referred to portable audio cassette players. The company now uses the Walkman brand to market its portable audio and video players as well as a line of former Sony Ericsson mobile phones.
Sony utilized a related brand, Discman, to refer to its CD players. It dropped this name in the late 1990s.
Sony produced computers (MSX home computers and NEWS workstations) during the 1980s, exclusively for sale in the Japanese market. The company withdrew from the computer business around 1990. Sony entered again into the global computer market under the new VAIO brand, began in 1996. Short for "Video Audio Integrated Operation," the line was the first computer brand to highlight visual-audio features.
The first Cyber-shot was introduced in 1996. At the time, digital cameras were a relative novelty. Sony's market share of the digital camera market fell from a high of 20% to 9% by 2005.
Sony entered the market for digital single-lens reflex cameras in 2006 when it acquired the camera business of Konica Minolta. Sony rebranded the company's line of cameras as its Alpha line. Sony is the world's third largest manufacturer of the cameras, behind leaders Canon and Nikon.
In 1968 Sony introduced the Trinitron brand name for its lines of aperture grille cathode ray tube televisions and (later) computer monitors. Sony stopped production of Trinitron for most markets, but continued producing sets for markets such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and China. Sony discontinued its series of Trinitron computer monitors in 2005. The company discontinued the last Trinitron-based television set in the USA in early 2007. The end of Trinitron marked the end of Sony's analog television sets and monitors.
Sony used the LCD WEGA name for its LCD TVs until summer 2005. The company then introduced the BRAVIA name. BRAVIA is an in house brand owned by Sony which produces high-definition LCD televisions, projection TVs and front projectors, home cinemas and the BRAVIA home theatre range. All Sony high-definition flat-panel LCD televisions in North America have carried the logo for BRAVIA since 2005. Sony is the third-largest maker of televisions in the world. As of 2012[update], Sony's television business has been unprofitable for eight years.
In December 2011, Sony agreed to sell all stake in an LCD joint venture with Samsung Electronics for about $940 million. On 28 March 2012, Sony Corporation and Sharp Corporation announced that they have agreed to further amend the joint venture agreement originally executed by the parties in July 2009, as amended in April 2011, for the establishment and operation of Sharp Display Products Corporation ("SDP"), a joint venture to produce and sell large-sized LCD panels and modules
Sony Mobile Communications AB (formerly Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB) is a multinational mobile phone manufacturing company headquartered in London, United Kingdom and a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Corporation.
In 2001, Sony entered into a joint venture with Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson, forming Sony Ericsson. Initial sales were rocky, and the company posted losses in 2001 and 2002. However, SMC reached a profit in 2003. Sony Ericsson distinguished itself with multimedia-capable mobile phones, which included features such as cameras. These were unusual for the time. Despite their innovations, SMC faced intense competition from Apple's iPhone, released in 2007. From 2008 to 2010, amid a global recession, SMC slashed its workforce by several thousand. Sony acquired Ericsson's share of the venture in 2012 for over US$1 billion. In 2009, SMC was the fourth-largest mobile phone manufacturer in the world (after Nokia, Samsung and LG). By 2010, its market share had fallen to sixth place. Sony Mobile Communications now focuses exclusively on the smartphone market.
Sony Computer Entertainment is best known for producing the popular line of PlayStation consoles. The line grew out of a failed partnership with Nintendo. Originally, Nintendo requested for Sony to develop an add-on for its console that would play Compact Discs. In 1991 Sony announced the add-on, as well as a dedicated console known as the "Play Station." However, a disagreement over software licensing for the console caused the partnership to fall through. Sony then continued the project independently.
Launched in 1994, the first PlayStation gained 61% of global console sales and broke Nintendo's long-standing lead in the market. Sony followed up with the PlayStation 2 in 2000, which was even more successful. The console has become the most successful of all time, selling over 150 million units as of 2011[update]. Sony released the PlayStation 3, a high-definition console, in 2006. It was the first console to use the Blu-ray format, although its expensive Cell processor made it considerably more expensive than competitors Xbox 360 and Wii. Early on, poor sales performance resulted in significant losses for the company, pushing it to sell the console at a loss. The PlayStation 3 has generally sold more poorly than those competitors, although not by a large margin. It later introduced the PlayStation Move, an accessory that allows players to control video games using motion gestures.
Sony extended the brand to the portable games market in 2005 with the PlayStation Portable (PSP). The console has sold reasonably, but has taken a second place to a rival handheld, the Nintendo DS. Sony developed the Universal Media Disc (UMD) optical disc medium for use on the PlayStation Portable. Early on, the format was used for movies, but it has since lost major studio support. Sony released a disc-less version of its PlayStation Portable, the PSP Go. The company went on to release its second portable video game system, PlayStation Vita, in 2011 and 2012.
Sony Online Entertainment operates online services for PlayStation, as well as several other online games. In 2011 hackers broke into the PlayStation Network online service, stealing the personal information of 77 million account holders.
Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc. (SPE) is the television and film production/distribution unit of Sony. With 12.5% box office market share in 2011, the company was ranked 3rd among movie studios. Its group sales in 2010 were US$7.2 billion. The company has produced many notable movie franchises, including Spider-Man, The Karate Kid, and Men in Black. It has also produced popular television game shows Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune.
Sony entered the television and film production market when it acquired Columbia Pictures Entertainment in 1989 for $3.4 billion. Columbia lives on in the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group, a subsidiary of SPE which in turn owns TriStar Pictures and Columbia Pictures. SPE's television division is known as Sony Pictures Television.
For the first several years of its existence, Sony Pictures Entertainment performed poorly, leading many to suspect the company would sell off the division. Sony Pictures Entertainment encountered controversy in the early 2000s. In July 2000, a marketing executive working for Sony Corporation created a fictitious film critic, David Manning, who gave consistently good reviews for releases from Sony subsidiary Columbia Pictures that generally received poor reviews amongst real critics. Sony later pulled the ads, suspended Manning's creator and his supervisor and paid fines to the state of Connecticut and to fans who saw the reviewed films in the US. In 2006 Sony started using ARccOS Protection on some of their film DVDs, but later issued a recall.
Sony Music Entertainment (also known as SME or Sony Music) is the second-largest global recorded music company of the "big four" record companies and is controlled by Sony Corporation of America, the United States subsidiary of Japan's Sony Corporation. The company owns full or partial rights to the catalogues of Michael Jackson, The Beatles, Usher, Eminem, Akon, and others.
In one of its largest-ever acquisitions, Sony purchased CBS Record Group in 1987 for US$2 billion. In the process, Sony gained the rights to the catalogue of Michael Jackson, considered by the Guinness Book of World Records to be the most successful entertainer of all time. The acquisition of CBS Records provided the foundation for the formation of Sony Music Entertainment, which Sony established in 1991.
In 2004, Sony entered into a joint venture with Bertelsmann AG, merging Sony Music Entertainment with Bertelsmann Music Group to create Sony BMG. In 2005, Sony BMG faced a copy protection scandal, because its music CDs had installed a controversial feature on users' computers that posing a security risk to affected users. In 2007, the company acquired Famous Music for US$370 million, gaining the rights to the catalogues of Eminem and Akon, among others.
Sony bought out Bertelsmann's share in the company and formed a new Sony Music Entertainment in 2008. Since then, the company has undergone management changes.
Besides its record label, Sony operates other music businesses. In 1995, Sony purchased a 50% stake in ATV Music Publishing, forming Sony/ATV Music Publishing. At the time, the publishing company was the second-largest of its kind in the world. The company owns much of the publishing rights to the catalogue of The Beatles. Sony purchased digital music recognition company Gracenote for US$260 million in 2008.
Sony Financial Holdings Inc. (ソニーフィナンシャルホールディングス株式会社 Sonī Finansharu Hōrudingusu Kabushiki-gaisha ) (TYO: 8729) is a holding company for Sony's financial services business. It owns and oversees the operation of Sony Life (in Japan and the Philippines), Sony Assurance, Sony Bank, Sony Bank Securities. The company is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan.
Sony Financial accounts for half of Sony's global earnings. The unit proved the most profitable of Sony's businesses in fiscal year 2006, earning $1.7 billion in profit. Sony Financial's low fees have aided the unit's popularity while threatening Sony's premium brand name.
Sony is one of Japan's largest corporations by revenue. It had revenues of ¥6.395 trillion in 2012. It also maintains large reserves of cash, with ¥13.29 trillion on hand as of 2012. In May 2012, Sony shares were valued at about $15 billion.
The company was immensely profitable throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, in part because of the success of its new PlayStation line. The company encountered financial difficulty in the mid- to late-2000s due to a number of factors: the global financial crisis, increased competition for PlayStation, and the Japanese earthquake. The company faced three consecutive years of losses leading up to 2011. While noting the negative effects of intervening circumstances such as natural disasters and fluctuating currency exchange rates, the Financial Times criticized the company for its "lack of resilience" and "inability to gauge the economy." The newspaper voiced skepticism about Sony's revitalization efforts, given a lack of tangible results.
In September 2000 Sony had a market capitalization of $100 billion; but by December 2011 it had plunged to $18 billion, reflecting falling prospects for Sony but also reflecting grossly inflated share prices of the 'dot.com' years. Net worth, as measured by stockholder equity, has steadily grown from $17.9 billion in March 2002 to $35.6 billion through December 2011. Earnings yield (inverse of the price to earnings ratio) has never been more than 5% and usually much less; thus Sony has always traded in over-priced ranges with the exception of the 2009 market bottom.
In April 2012 Sony announced that it would reduce its workforce by 10,000 (6% of its employee base) as part of CEO Hirai's effort to get the company back into the green. This came after a loss of 520 billion yen (roughly US$6.36 billion) for fiscal 2012, the worst since the company was founded. Accumulation loss for the past four years was 919.32 billion-yen. Sony plans to increase its marketing expenses by 30% in 2012.
Slightly more than 50% of the electronics' segment's total annual production during the fiscal year 2005 took place in Japan, including the production of digital cameras, video cameras, flat panel televisions, personal computers, semiconductors and components such as batteries and Memory Sticks. Approximately 65% of the annual production in Japan was destined for other regions. China accounted for slightly more than 10% of total annual production, approximately 70% of which was destined for other regions.
Asia, excluding Japan and China, accounted for slightly more than 10% of total annual production with approximately 60% destined for Japan, the US and the EU. The Americas and Europe together accounted for the remaining slightly less than 25% of total annual production, most of which was destined for local distribution and sale.
|Geographic region||Total sales (yen in millions)|
On 9 December 2008, Sony Corporation announced that it would be cutting 8,000 jobs, dropping 8,000 contractors and reducing its global manufacturing sites by 10% to save $1.1 billion per year.
In November 2011, Sony was ranked 9th (jointly with Panasonic) in Greenpeace's Guide to Greener Electronics. This chart grades major electronics companies on their environmental work. The company scored 3.6/10, incurring a penalty point for comments it has made in opposition to energy efficiency standards in California. It also risks a further penalty point in future editions for being a member of trade associations that have commented against energy efficiency standards. Together with Philips, Sony receives the highest score for energy policy advocacy after calling on the EU to adopt an unconditional 30% reduction target for greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Meanwhile, it receives full marks for the efficiency of its products. In 2007, Sony ranked 14th on the Greenpeace guide. Sony fell from its earlier 11th place ranking due to Greenpeace's claims that Sony had double standards in their waste policies.
Since 1976, Sony has had an Environmental Conference. Sony's policies address their effects on global warming, the environment, and resources. They are taking steps to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that they put out as well as regulating the products they get from their suppliers in a process that they call "green procurement". Sony has said that they have signed on to have about 75 percent of their Sony Building running on geothermal power. The "Sony Take Back Recycling Program" allow consumers to recycle the electronics products that they buy from Sony by taking them to eCycle (Recycling) drop-off points around the U.S. The company has also developed a biobattery that runs on sugars and carbohydrates that works similarly to the way living creatures work. This is the most powerful small biobattery to date.
In 2000, Sony faced criticism for a document entitled "NGO Strategy" that was leaked to the press. The document involved the company's surveillance of environmental activists in an attempt to plan how to counter their movements. It specifically mentioned environmental groups that were trying to pass laws that held electronics-producing companies responsible for the clean up of the toxic chemicals contained in their merchandise.
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