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  Sony Is Dusting Off The Walkman
By Hans Dekker, Sat Dec 10th

Sony is dusting off the name "Walkman" to compete with Apple’siPod. The Japanese are building on their own music experience tocapitalize on the popularity of the smaller MP3 player.

In the eighties and nineties the Sony Walkmans and Discmanswere a part of everyday life. But these days the MP3 player hasmarket dominance and the Japanese company has faded. Apple andits is now number one.

Just last week both companies introduced new MP3 players whichwill be in direct competition with each other. Sony introducedtwo players under the name "The New Walkman", while Applereleased the iPod Nano.


Sony is using the name "Walkman" in the hope that 26 yearsafter the first introduction of the famous cassette player thatname still has competitive value. However, we must conclude thathowever great Sony’s past accomplishments they have missed theboat in the MP3 revolution in a major way. The main cause forSony’s failure is their stubborn refusal to give up the Attrac3music format. While the whole world was exchanging MP3 files itwas only last year that Sony introduced players that can handlethis format.

By that time Apple was just

 
 
 

 
   
 

 

releasing its seventh generation ofiPod-type players.

Sony now markets the NWA-1000 and NWA-3000. These musicplayers can directly communicate with the Sony music store"Connect". It is also possible to copy files from the computerdirectly to the players.

Sony is well known for their activity in the music and filmbusiness. They must use their position in this field to regainmarket share and prestige in this interconnected industry.Interconnected because it seems that it is both Sony’s andApple’s strategy to heavily interconnect music player, softwareand music store. Apple’s iTunes was the first Internet musicstore offered large-scale legal downloads of MP3 files.

Sony won’t give us any figures about their sales and marketshare. Steve Jobs (CEO of Apple) has no problem with figures.Perhaps the major reason for this is how good they are. Appleclaims about half a billion downloads in a heavily growingmarket.

The iTunes store is heavily focused on its cooperation with theiPod. This player is definitely the market leader among the moreexpensive MP3 players which have their own hard disk. In thecheaper segment, MP3 players with the so called flash memory,the leaders are Creative, LG and iRiver. The Shuffle withits flash memory couldn’t do much about that. The negativesentiment about the shuffle was mainly due to its lack of an LCDscreen and relatively high price.

With the Nano Steve Jobs’ Apple has a twofold challenge onits hands. Firstly there is the above-mentioned competition withSony. Secondly, the new Apple player has a storage space of 4Gbof flash memory and no hard disk.

The Nano is the successor to the Mini. Apple isconstantly reducing the physical size and the prize of theirplayers. Their strategy seems to be to concentrate on iTunes astheir major profit producer.

There is an interesting time ahead of us -- we will see heavycompetition between Apple and Sony both in the interconnectedmarkets of the MP3 players and their respective music stores.

Who will win? I don’t know, but one thing I do know is thatApple was almost broke at the end of the last century. It hasbeen under the leadership of Steve Jobs that Apple made analmost miraculous comeback as a major player on the globalmarket of mini-electronics.


About the author:

Hans is an audio enthusiast and author of Audio, PersonalAudio, MP3 and Streaming Howto's at SelectedAudio-Reviews.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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