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For many years I used a Sony MiniDisc recorder when I was at meetings or conducting interviews. Unfortunately I could only use my recordings through a MiniDisc player, and despite being able to download music from my PC onto my MiniDisc, I couldn't do the reverse. It wasn't a problem with the device - Sony actually made a MiniDisc data drive for a while - the hardware had been deliberately crippled, thanks to Sony's influential content division. There would never be a Walkman-branded product with upload capabilities - or for that matter, without the strong DRM features of their ATRAC compression technology.

Now Sony has finally admitted that this was the wrong decision to have made - and as a result the Walkman has been virtually frozen out of the rapid growth MP3-player segment. But it's probably too late. Devices like the iPod have stolen brand awareness from Walkman, and other MP3 devices are offering full recording capabilities (like my new iRiver H320). It's a market Sony may never get back.

Ken Kutaragi, president of Sony Computer Entertainment has said "It's just starting. We are growing up."

But it may be too late. How about starting by opening up the UMD format for the PSP? Or allowing third parties to write code that can work with non-encrypted ATRAC?

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
quercus
Jan. 21st, 2005 05:32 am (UTC)
I phoned my Ancient Chinese Battery Making Guy in Birmingham this morning, looking for the availability of replacement battery packs for Sony MiniDisc kit. Paraphrasing only very slightly, his response was "You buy Sony, you fscked".

As far as iWalk goes, Sony do appear to have blown it badly. They had a lead with MemoryStick too a few years ago, and wasted that by not licensing it widely enough. Now it's seen as Sony-proprietary, tied up in DRM, and over-priced. We're still using CompactFlash (all those tiny bendy pins !)
marypcb
Jan. 21st, 2005 06:18 am (UTC)
Sony breaks every standard it gets involved in (FireWire, DVD recording), so the MP3 thing was all of a piece with the way they work. But Sony kit has the style-wow factor that makes Apple so popular (outside the computer market where they're still under 2% market share but have lots of mind share for looks & design). I doubt they'll do anything as enlightened as opening up formats but I wouldn't write them off just yet.
moral_vacuum
Jan. 21st, 2005 07:36 am (UTC)
I still wonder whether Hi-MD might succeed. I'm a firm believer in removeable storage media and find HD equipment unnatural. And also with taht one doesn't ahve the issues of someone nicking your iPod and you losing everything.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )