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Sony A-Series Walkman
"That's all I can stands and I can't stands no more"

Sony is tired of having its butt kicked by Apple in the portable audio market. The iPod has consistently thwarted any attempt by Sony to grab a foothold on the market even after several valiant attempts. Sales figures show that Apple sold almost twice as many music players in the first three months of 2006 than Sony did in all of the previous fiscal year. According to a top Sony executive, the company is ready to take another jab at the venerable iPod. Whether those punches deliver any serious damage remain to be seen.

Sony is hoping to launch the new series of players in time for the Holiday '06 buying season; right about the time when the company's highly anticipated PlayStation 3 is due to hit shelves around the world. The new music players also promise to focus heavily on design and battery life. From Digital Tokyo World:

Apple has a commanding lead in the music player market and is particularly strong in the U.S., where it's estimated to command more than 80 percent market share. Sony has tried to unseat Apple in that market before with little success, and its recently launched A-series Walkman digital music players are on sale only in Japan and Europe.

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Advice for Sony
By TomZ on 5/1/2006 11:22:10 AM , Rating: 5
1. Stop pricing your MP3 players like they are superior to other brands - because they are not

2. Fix or get rid of SoundStage software that is hated by many of your existing customers

3. Get rid of the need to transcode MP3 to your proprietary ATRAC format and the need to "authorize" my MP3's via your web site. It is not your job to police whether my MP3 files are legal or not (they are, by the way)

MP3 players should be able to natively play MP3 files - duh!

RE: Advice for Sony
By Chiisuchianu on 5/1/2006 5:16:39 PM , Rating: 2
4. Add Ogg format support.

RE: Advice for Sony
By jconan on 5/1/2006 11:13:57 PM , Rating: 2
5. support songbird's development and bundle it with your products package.

6. make managing easy to use and get rid of the drm or make it universal (opens source) and easy to use with your products.

7. (study user interface development) simplify your user interface on your players. simple yet powerful and intuitive...

RE: Advice for Sony
By jconan on 5/1/2006 11:41:06 PM , Rating: 2
8. six sigma (improve quality control especially those made in china and elsewhere)... no six sigma overall from design to production
9. stop being self conceited... open source everything u can and license your proprietary stuff and make it affordable for other companies to promote your technology in their products
10. don't miss the bus or else it's too little too late (death of large corporations)

If Apple were to license FairPlay ...
By JAS on 5/1/2006 2:45:02 PM , Rating: 2
How about some form of partnership between Apple Computer and Sony? Apple would license FairPlay in exchange for a consideration, monetary or otherwise, and allow Sony's portable music players to work with the iTunes Music Store. Anyone see a scenario in which both companies would benefit through such an arrangement?

RE: If Apple were to license FairPlay ...
By UNCjigga on 5/1/2006 3:14:25 PM , Rating: 2
Apple will NEVER open up iTunes for use on other players...not unless a court orders them to do so. Think about the switching costs that exist for iPod users right now. The reason why nobody's eating at Apple's share of the digital music market is because all these people buying music off iTunes are now stuck on iPods for life--who the hell wants to pay for music to use on another player if they already bought it on iTunes?? That's an INCREDIBLE competitive advantage (almost unfair, which is why French courts forced them to open up earlier this year.)

Sure Apple's iPod interface was great, but their real brilliance was putting iTunes on Windows PCs back when no one else offered a compelling, easy-to-use solution for downloading and organizing music on PCs. Microsoft, MusicMatch, Real, Sony and all the others really missed the boat--before iTunes all the software was buggy, fully of nagware/adware or just a pain to use.

By Eug Wanker on 5/1/2006 3:51:31 PM , Rating: 2
Ironically, some 3rd party players work with iTunes on the Mac. Furthermore, some 3rd party players (including Sony phones) work with iTunes AAC. What they don't work with is FairPlay AAC.

Anyways, I agree... One of the biggest problems with Sony right now is that their software absotively sucks. iPods have a great interface, but iTunes just rocks. Now, not everyone likes it, but it's liked by a large enough portion of the population that it becomes a serious selling point in favour of the iPod.

Sony's software OTOH is universally reviled.

RE: If Apple were to license FairPlay ...
By JAS on 5/1/2006 7:12:21 PM , Rating: 2
...all these people buying music off iTunes are now stuck on iPods for life.
Not entirely true. Any music in your iTunes library, whether purchased through the iTunes Music Store or imported from your own CDs, can be written -- with no FairPlay or other DRM -- onto a compact disc. From there, you may transfer the content to another system.

By goku on 5/3/2006 10:17:15 AM , Rating: 2
well for a person who pays for a low quality DRM file, I can see your logic in doing this.. Just great, first you start out with a half assed quality music file and then you have to waste a CD (most people use CDRs) then RERIP the file (losing quality) then encode it (lose even more quality) until you're left with an even worse sounding file than from before. Talk about tedious, what if you had a 10,000 song library?

Sony iPod
By bobobeastie on 5/1/2006 12:32:43 PM , Rating: 2
Apple sold almost twice as many iPods in the first three months of 2006 than Sony did

Since when has Sony sold ipods? Perhaps we are talikng about extremly large values of zero. If iPod is being used as a general term then an interesting note is that the past two types of devices were sometimes refered to as names of Sony procucts, walkman and discman. I think we should not refer to a catagory of products with a brand name of only one specific line. Except of course for things like Q-Tips and Kleenex.

Nice OLED display.

RE: Sony iPod
By TomZ on 5/1/2006 1:27:50 PM , Rating: 2
Why would you consider Q-Tips and Kleenex in a separate category? These are trademarks used in place of a more generic term, e.g., tissues. Seems the same to me.

RE: Sony iPod
By GoatMonkey on 5/1/2006 2:13:35 PM , Rating: 2
The word "tissue" just sounds really lame. Kleenex is better.

RE: Sony iPod
By abhaxus on 5/2/2006 12:15:48 PM , Rating: 2
Q-tips aren't tissues... a more accurate analogy would be Puffs and Kleenex. With Kleenex of course being the universal brand name there.

Will someone please...
By Trisped on 5/1/2006 2:24:46 PM , Rating: 2
Will someone please explain why the picture looks like the display is printed on the device? Is this a new use for E-Ink? Or is the whole front of the device a touch screen?

Or is it "lies, all lies"?

RE: Will someone please...
By TomZ on 5/1/2006 3:21:12 PM , Rating: 2
It looks to me like it is an OLED behind a semi-transluscent plastic case. It has a nice, integrated look.

RE: Will someone please...
By Visual on 5/2/2006 3:15:26 AM , Rating: 2
i don't know, but it sure looks awesome.

MP3 does work natively
By Madzombie on 5/1/2006 6:54:00 PM , Rating: 2
While I agree that Sonicstage is software from the pits of hell some aspects aren't as bad as they used to be. I have a 20GB Sony player and have been using MP3s without hassle since the day I got it. It doesn't need to transcode them or authorise them online. Once I've wrestled with the software to get MP3s onto the player they work great. However, getting music back off it is impossible, which seriously sucks, and it only seems to let you use it with one computer. Any more and it asks you to reformat the player. It offers very little freedom but the stories of needing to transcode MP3 have had no relevence for over a year now.

RE: MP3 does work natively
By TomZ on 5/1/2006 9:00:06 PM , Rating: 2
My understanding is that their software transcodes to ATRAC when you upload MP3s to the player, which is why you can't download the files back off the player. Also, my understanding is that the software knows to not allow you to use multiple computers because it contacts a Sony web server during the "authorization" process.

RE: MP3 does work natively
By Madzombie on 5/2/2006 7:58:15 AM , Rating: 2
That's what happened with their original players but on newer players and older ones with firmware upgrades it does transfer them as MP3 files without transcoding. If you check the music once it's on the player it will either say "atrac3plus" or "MP3" above the bitrate. Atrac3plus does not support VBR, yet whenVBR MP3 files are transferred it will display the average VBR bitrate. Also, there is the option to manually transcode, and this takes much longer than if you simply transfer, further suggesting that it normally just transfers the MP3 files as they are.

By BladeVenom on 5/1/2006 1:37:19 PM , Rating: 3
Sony is a joke. I find it amusing that the company that made the worst MP3 player on the planet thinks they are going to challenge the iPod. What's their new game plan, a new version of ATRAC? Making their player even more proprietary? How about a digital music player that doesn't even play music? Maybe they're developing an enhanced rootkit that just makes iPods stop working.

By Operandi on 5/1/2006 1:44:20 PM , Rating: 2
hahah, nice.

I agree with that. Although I think their hardware is pretty good it's rendered near useless by their horrible software and DRM policies.

I could design an MP3 player...
By drunkenmastermind on 5/1/2006 7:16:21 PM , Rating: 2
That could compeat with the ipod! I don't understand how all these companies can make such crappy players. They all look like toys. This Sony one I don't know what to do with it but I feel more inclined to suck on it that use it for playing my MPs.

RE: I could design an MP3 player...
By Tides on 5/1/2006 8:00:23 PM , Rating: 3
There really is no reason to buy a sony mp3 player over an apple mp3 player. Things they could do..

* Link it with the PS3
- Rip Audio CD's to mp3 player
- Rip Video Game audio tracks to mp3 player

This would allow people without computers to rip their CD's onto an mp3 player as well.

By Homerboy on 5/1/2006 10:40:45 AM , Rating: 4
You'd think SOny would leverage the PS3 if they wanted in on this market. There has to be a way to intertwine the two seemlessly.

Samsung, best players ?
By armagedon on 5/1/2006 11:46:13 AM , Rating: 2
Samsung is the immediate threat to Apple (Z5), not Sony. Personnaly i have the T8 which has everything except the kitchen sink for a amazing price.

RE: Samsung, best players ?
By UNCjigga on 5/1/2006 12:05:08 PM , Rating: 2
I guess Apple thinks so too, if recent stories about Apple dumping PortalPlayer and picking up Samsung ASICs (in addition to Samsung memory) for their next generation iPod prove to be true.

It's not about the player only
By psychobriggsy on 5/1/2006 11:51:45 AM , Rating: 2
It's about the whole experience and usability.

That means the player, the computer software, the online music store, and whether your friends will laugh at you for buying that product.

Apple's got all of those sorted. It all just works, and the players look nice as well. Even the evilness that is DRM, in the form of Fairplay, is not that evil, given that it has quite lax restrictions. The default audio format is an open standard (AAC) and high quality.

Sony, well, SoundStage, hehehe, and I'd laugh at anyone who bought a DMP that used such awful software. Looks are subjective, so I won't deduct points here. DRM is far more restrictive. I don't know if Sony have a music store, and if the prices are competitive with iTMS, the quality is good, or they have an equally large range of songs.

By segagenesis on 5/1/2006 12:34:02 PM , Rating: 2
I used to have one thier older players, but its rotting in a landfill right now so I cant give you the model offhand. To put it nicely the device was about as useful as used chewing gum. The main problem was the custom ATRAC format made just about whatever music I put into it sound terrible from recompression, even at the highest setting. The only positive I could remotely say about it was it needed a single AAA battery and lasted a good while on one.

Don't get me started on the software either... I think an old Intellivision controller would be more productive (obscure?). Apple has done well on both how thier players operate, how they look, and the "desirability" factor.

FYI, I now own an iPod.

Sony < *
By Spartan Niner on 5/1/2006 1:28:38 PM , Rating: 2
Sony was awesome... about a decade ago. Ever since then, the quality of their products and the quality of their software has been going down the tube.

Don't believe me?
Well let's see... dead PS1 (check), dead PS2 (check), dead Sony Walkman (check), dead 17" Sony Trinitron (check), crappy software (check)... omg so slow why does it have to convert to ATRAC, etc.

I've gotten burned on the Sony products I've owned, haven't bought a Sony product in about three years now. Their hardware quality is crap, and their software is *$@U*@U annoying. Now on the other hand while I dislike some of the things about the iPod I own, I have to give props to Apple for making it easy to use and very intuitive. That and my Samsung 15" LCD is still going strong 4 years later... my 17" Trinitron died in a year. Until they can lower their prices and start making quality products again, I won't touch their crap with a 10' pole. Samsung and Apple > Sony

RE: Sony < *
By JAS on 5/1/2006 2:54:02 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. Sony used to be the gold standard in audio-video electronics. I don't know when the turning point was or how the quality of their manufacturing declined so rapidly. But the Sony of today is surely not the Sony of old.

It's quite obvious
By AppaYipYip on 5/1/2006 3:39:43 PM , Rating: 3
One look at that display on the Sony A-series example should tell you why Sony, and all other manufacturers, fail. Apple wins through simplicity - both in design and usage.

Three little letters
By blwest on 5/1/2006 11:21:52 AM , Rating: 2
DRM...<--this is what killed Sony in the past. While apple incorporates those nasty 3 letters into their player, it works well with NON-DRM media as well. Sony will fail again. I'd take a 1st Gen ipod over any crap Sony produces. Oh wait, I still use my 1g ipod!

terrible software
By phelonius on 5/1/2006 11:36:18 AM , Rating: 2
mkay, they could start completely rewriting their software, because it basically su**s. it always breaks its database and that tinyhttp thing, ive never seen anything like it, like a goldminer in 1850, keeps on shoveling, but data, until the computer is overtaken by an amiga
i just hat this software! i have an a-1000 and i'm thinking of dumping it, just because of the software
did i say i hated the software?

Sony MP3 player software
By ionoxx on 5/1/2006 12:01:30 PM , Rating: 2
Has anyone ever tried to use the sony software that you need to use for their players. They should be ashamed of themselves. It is not only the slowest software ever. Its unusable. All the people I know who bought one, promtly returned it because of the software and MANY hardware defects.

By adam92682 on 5/1/2006 12:33:57 PM , Rating: 2
I like using my PSP to play mp3

By chilled on 5/1/2006 1:48:27 PM , Rating: 2
I would have bought one if it played WMA files, had a colour screen and worked with WMP or explorer.

The picture is photoshop
By Nacho on 5/1/2006 6:24:39 PM , Rating: 2
Click the picture and look at the hi-res version. It's either a fake or it has the highest resolution display I've ever seen...

1st post!
By PrinceGaz on 5/1/06, Rating: -1
"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov
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