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Blackboard and Sony Partner to Offer Contactless Card Technology in U.S. Education Market

WASHINGTON and SAN JOSE, Calif., Nov. 7 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Blackboard Inc. (Nasdaq: BBBB) and Sony Corporation announced today a partnership to support Sony FeliCa contactless technology in the Blackboard Commerce Suite(TM), a family of applications supporting one-card transactions on-campus, off-campus and online and allowing for identification, payment and access.

Under the terms of the agreement, Sony will engage Blackboard to support the FeliCa contactless chip technology. The combination of Sony's proven FeliCa technology and the industry standard Near Field Communication (NFC) protocol offers industry-leading application options and system performance.

"The deployment of contactless technology is very advanced across Asia where Sony is the clear market leader," said Russ Carlson, President of the Blackboard Commerce Group. "Sony's commitment to the U.S. market and to NFC standards allows for a solution to higher education institutions that improves student service in a cost effective manner, and enables a wide-array of new services in the future."

The FeliCa Contactless IC card technology offers high security complying with ISO standard in contactless applications. FeliCa also provides a supportive layer of user credentials which can be integrated with NFC-enabled devices including door access readers, point of sale terminals, mobile phones and a variety of attended and unattended devices.

"Our collaboration will help improve the daily life of students, staff and faculty with the benefits of FeliCa contactless technology as it allows educational institutions to combine multiple applications including student identification, access control and payment onto a single card," said Hiromasa Otsuka, Corporate Executive Senior Vice President at Sony Corporation responsible for the FeliCa Division. "We are ready and excited to expand the cool and smart lifestyle FeliCa technology enabled in Japan to the U.S. market."

Sony FeliCa technology is widely used across the globe, with more than 250 million cards and FeliCa chips embedded in mobile phones in circulation. Rail ticketing and payment systems throughout Asia have incorporated the contactless technology to increase speed of service and passenger throughput.

With Sony's FeliCa technology, contactless communication between the card and the card reader/writer is activated by electromagnetic waves radiated from the reader/writer antenna. FeliCa technology complies with ISO/IEC 18092 communication method. The solution allows for read/write transactions to be completed within 0.1 second, a feature that makes the card advantageous to be used for multiple university campus applications that require high-speed processing.

Transmission data is encrypted using a "transaction key" which is dynamically generated at every mutual authentication. These features make forgery and card fraud nearly impossible.

About Blackboard Inc.

Blackboard Inc. (Nasdaq: BBBB) is a leading provider of enterprise software applications and related services to the education industry. Founded in 1997, Blackboard enables educational innovations everywhere by connecting people and technology. With two product suites, the Blackboard Academic Suite (TM) and the Blackboard Commerce Suite (TM), Blackboard is used by millions of people at academic institutions around the globe, including colleges, universities, K-12 schools and other education providers, as well as textbook publishers and student-focused merchants that serve education providers and their students. Blackboard is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia.

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    About Sony Corporation

Sony Corporation is a leading manufacturer of audio, video, game, communications, key device and information technology products for the consumer and professional markets. With its music, pictures, computer entertainment and on-line businesses, Sony is uniquely positioned to be the leading personal broadband entertainment company in the world. Sony recorded consolidated annual sales of approximately $70 billion for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2007. Sony Global Web Site: http://www.sony.net

Any statements in this press release about future expectations, plans and prospects for Blackboard and other statements containing the words "believes," "anticipates," "plans," "expects," "will," and similar expressions, constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Actual results may differ materially from those indicated by such forward-looking statements as a result of various important factors, including the factors discussed in the "Risk Factors" section of our Form 10-Q filed on August 7, 2007 with the SEC. In addition, the forward-looking statements included in this press release represent the Company's views as of November 7, 2007. The Company anticipates that subsequent events and developments will cause the Company's views to change. However, while the Company may elect to update these forward-looking statements at some point in the future, the Company specifically disclaims any obligation to do so. These forward-looking statements should not be relied upon as representing the Company's views as of any date subsequent to November 7, 2007.

SOURCE Sony Corporation; Blackboard Inc.

CONTACT: Melissa Chotiner, Senior Manager Public Relations at Blackboard, +1-202-463-4860 ext. 2404, mchotiner@blackboard.com; or media, Amy Storey of Fleishman-Hillard Inc., +1-202-828-8819, storeya@fleishman.com; or Elizabeth Boukis of Sony Electronics Inc., +1-408-352-4593, elizabeth.boukis@am.sony.com