August 21, 2005
Apple plays winning tune in Sony back yard
Guardian: Apple's foray into Japan - which is the world's second biggest market for music in terms of album sales - has sparked talk of a rapid growth in the market in digital music downloads and of a bitter battle with Sony.
Analysts agree that the momentum is with the visitor from California.
August 16, 2005
Sony's Mobile Synergy Through The Chain
PMN: Sony's various units working in synergy...like, wow. Sony Ericsson is working with Sony BMG, the record label, to provide Orange with exclusive multimedia content from Sony artist Jamiroquai on its K600i 3G handset, reports PMN. The agreement follows last week's launch of the W800i 'Walkman' phone, when Jamiroquai front man JK was enlisted to sell the first few handsets at a London store and later gave a private concert for Sony Ericsson guests.
Jamiroquai will also perform at a private concert for Orange's customers and partners...
July 28, 2005
Sony Upgrades PSP Firmware
gamesindustry: In addition to launching a new service called "Portable TV" which will provide Japanese consumers with downloadable video content for the PlayStation Portable, Sony has also added the ATRAC3plus music format to the PSP in today's 2.00 firmware upgrade - which will enable users to purchase music from Sony's Connect Music Store for playback on the PSP. In addition, more music standards are supported such as MP4 and WAV, which makes total sense...However, users can't browse the music store on their consoles yet, but that functionality could be added in the near future. The convergence of gaming and free/paid multimedia content on the same portable device is here folks...Depending on consumer uptake, Sony could be positioning itself to hit big initially in the Far East.
July 14, 2005
Sony Knocks Apple Into 2nd Place in Japan
Yahoo: Apparently, Sony's new lineup of digital music players are slowly starting to slice into the popularity of Apple's iPod in Japan. Several of the new models are equipped with flash memory chips and hard disk drives capable of holding thousands of songs. The article reports that gains in the Japanese market have come primarily from one line of flash memory players that have won over consumers with a long-lasting battery which can play up to 50 hours on one charge as well as a stylish design (i.e. rounded body and a display to view what music is playing.)
"While Apple remains the top seller of hard drive players in Japan, there's been a decisive momentum swing in the Japanese market, with Sony securing the top position for flash memory players in both May and June, knocking Apple and its iPod shuffle device into second place." According to market research company BCN, Sony's share of the Japanese market for flash memory players went from just 4 percent in March to 16 percent in April and shot up to 27 percent in May and June. Apple's share has fallen to under 20 percent.
One challenge to overcome is the fact that Sony doesn't currently have a product to go head-to-head with Apple's hot-selling iPod mini device...Another challenge will be to develop more appealing jukebox software and a offer download service that consumers perceive to be just as easy to navigate as iTunes. So far, Sony has not had much success with its Connect online music store. Jon Erensen, a U.S.-based analyst at research firm Gartner who tracks the music player market added, "Lack of an iTunes online store aimed at users in Japan was a major reason behind Sony's success in its home market. That could change if Apple, as a newspaper reported, unleashes iTunes in Japan next month."
June 30, 2005
Sony To Relaunch Connect Music Service; Will Work Cohesively
Cohesive is the keyword these days at the new, new Sony. It will relaunch its failed online music service, Sony Connect. Both the development of the Connect software and the Walkman hardware will be under the same management and the company will be focussing all its digital music efforts in one direction.
No more details yet, but Sony has indicated video downloads in the past...
WSJ: WSJ has the story on the Sony Connect disaster..fascinating read about the dysfunctional family.
Sony is pushing hard to roll out a fully revamped version of the Connect service, complete with jukebox software, a retooled Walkman and a video-download service in the fall. Connect is also working with the videogame and cellphone groups, in a stab at true cross-company cooperation.
I would think they would integrate it with Sony PSP and not try and flog the dead Walkman horse...
June 23, 2005
Sony Narrows Focus On R&D
Yahoo: At a press conference today in Tokyo, Sony's new president Ryoji Chubachi said that the struggling electronics company will narrow the focus of its R&D to "only promising areas" such as next-generation video equipment, mobile phones and flat panel TVs. He also said that Sony would continue restructuring its sprawling operations while cultivating new businesses to drive earnings growth...No specific details yet on how they're going to do this (hopefully without cutting too many jobs) but R&D spending is expected to total 520 billion yen ($4.8 billion) this business year...
May 17, 2005
Eagle Rock Entertainment Embraces The Universal Media Disc (UMD) Format
Press Release: Eagle Rock Entertainment announced yesterday that it will become one of the first "visual music companies" to embrace the new Universal Media Disc (UMD) format and release selected music video catalog titles worldwide on UMD for play on the Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP) game device. Executive Vice President Mike Carden said, "As soon as we saw the quality of the image produced on the PlayStation Portable, we knew it could be a very successful vehicle for our products and we wanted to be the first-to-market with visual music titles."
The UMD, which has a maximum disc space limit of 1.8GB, has less than half the 4.7GB space of a single layer DVD or less than a quarter the space of a dual layer 8.5GB DVD. Although touted as a gaming machine first, the PSP is also the first versatile handheld device that has the ability to display photos, play audio MP3s and also movies. Sony thinks they have a shot at making the UMD a popular format for music and videos on portable devices and plans to give other companies access to the movie and music variants of the technology so that they might produce multimedia players that support UMD...Smart move...Hopefully, it will get farther than it did with Betamax and Minidisc with consumers AND content providers...The PSP has sold extremely well since its release last March..The WSJ reports that Sony expects to ship 12 million units worldwide this year and sales of film titles available for the device have already exceeded expectations...Video Business predicts that by the end of the year - most film studios will be making releases available in the UMD format... This could get interesting since the UMD format was successfully hacked recently...but extracting data seems of little importance given blank UMD media and UMD writable drives are not yet available.
May 13, 2005
Sony Launches Irish Music Download Service
NetImperative: After recently celebrating its 1 year birthday, Sony Connect has launched its newest online store in Ireland - offering 600,000 songs for $.99 (Euro) per track utilizing its jukebox software, SonicStage. In a PC strategy, similar to Apple's on the Mac, Sony has opted to continue going down the slippery slope of offering a proprietary and closed format (i.e., ATRAC3 & OpenMG DRM) for their download and device compatibility. Good for hardware sales, but not for the consumer...The new Irish online store includes music from all major labels - in addition to over 700 independents - but is still way behind in terms of catalogue depth...The service will also include local and international content, local news and artist information. (Sony Connect has already been launched in the UK, France, Germany, Monaco and the Netherlands.)
SiliconRepublic reports, “Connect is all about quality and choice in a networked world,” says Sushil Teji, general manager, Sony Ireland. “It allows consumers to enjoy music in more ways than ever before by offering a truly easy-to-use service with seamless connectivity to secure Sony portable audio devices...Really? I thought consumer demand, evident from filesharing usage, shows that we'd like to have a plethora of choices and retain the rights to play what we buy anytime on any device, which is why MP3's have become the defacto standard (which Sony portable devices only recently started supporting...) However, looking at the big picture, Sony still has two competitive advantages: it offers more than one portable device that can play the music it sells and it owns a substantial music catalog - so the company doesn't have to pay as much in licensing fees as other stores...
April 15, 2005
Sony Releases New Software
Press Release: In a move seeking to meet the growing demand for professional royalty-free music and sound, Sony Media Software announced yesterday the release of Cinemascape: Soundtrack Construction Elements. This new title is a royalty-free soundtrack composition resource that will appeal mostly to film produces as it contains a broad assortment of textures and melodies created specifically to provide musical elements that enhance visual information. The 24 bit 2 CD-set is in the ACID .wav file format - which supports pitch-shifting and time-stretching, and is also recognized by products such as Live, Sonar, Cubase, Logic, and GarageBand. MSRP is $99.95...
April 14, 2005
Sony Now Compatible With iTunes
MacWorld: Sony has released a network audio system that works with Advanced Audio Codec (AAC), the file compression format most commonly found in Apple's iTunes. The new digital music player is expected to launch in July and is called the NAS-CZ1. Basically, "it allows users to stream music wirelessly from their PC to wherever in the house the unit is placed." So what does this all mean? Well, for starters - iTunes fans can rest assured that they will be able to play their tracks through the audio system, which is a smart move for Sony. The best part is that the unit is compatible with most audio files and a wide range of codecs including: MP3, WAV, WMA and AAC. Finally, someone at Sony is listening to their customer's needs and wants and is ready to join in the game instead of trying to re-invent it...
--Sony Europe Press Center