back to article Walkman completes Sony conspiracy to hammer iTunes

The newspapers were full of stories during 2004 about how Microsoft or RealNetworks or Napster were going to knock Apple's iTunes off its perch, and time and time again, nothing really happened. Now we have the reverse. There are genuine storm clouds and dark forces gathering around the iTunes and iPod brands and most of the …

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Anonymous Coward

Do you write for a living?

"Then last week it was Nokia's turn, and it did not disappoint, using mostly Microsoft media-types and we guess its PlayReady DRM, to bring the Nokia Music Store to life, a year or so after it acquired music licensee Loudeye, adding devices that mimic the capabilities of the iPhone and then some."

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Vorbis?

I would really like to get one of the new Apple digital audio players, they look very sexy and, quite frankly, make the competition look shabby in comparison.

Even the new Sony walkman players seem to have grown up a little bit and exude more style then they ever did.

But the problem for me is... I have over 300Gb of music in Ogg format. Which pretty much means I am going to have to get a player from one of the Korean or Chinese companies that offer a wider range of audio codecs in their digital audio players.

I don't really care about online music stores, I tend to buy CDs and rip them myself. Why don't any of the majors players in this industry support ogg? Samsung does (now and then) so why cant Sony or Apple.

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another apple hating non-story

Sony, the lords of awful DRM will use MS DRM and somehow that will be attractive to consumers? NOT

Microsoft is competing with these players with it's Zune line, which uses a different DRM than the one MS first foisted on their OEMs. Nice.

So Verizon is going to compete and Sony is going to compete by offering a music service with music that COSTS more and has DRM.

A surefire winner.

By the end of Sept Apple will ship their 16gig 3G iPhone with wifi itunes music store support. Then what Sony?

you reg guys and your fellow travellers sure like to dump on apple.

yet n this space Apple is its own biggest competitor. do you really think they will sit still?

meanwhile all the content providers can do is focus on greed.

more DRM! higher prices for content! more restrictive DRM. Demanding a cut of the hardware sale too!

all things consumers are demanding. NOT.

oh wait maybe Zune 2.0 will hammer apple.

maybe the zune phone will do it.

you guys can only hope i guess.

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Sonistage

I would personally love to buy a decent Sony Walkman, but for me the problem has always been the iTunes killer, not the iPod killer. Sony's efforts in this area (Sonicstage) have been embarrassing and that is the main reason why they have struggled so much.

iPods are getting too popular and is making Apple even more smug (if that is possible).

Sony are several years too late to sort themselves out, time to get in bed with WMP11 IMHO!

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Consumers to industry: "simplicity please!"

A lot of research went into this article. I'm in IT and am well versed in all things pertaining to formats and DRM etc, and I still found myself struggling to keep it all straight. How the hell are average consumers supposed to figure out what they can buy and what music services will work on them? That's why Apple is walking away with the prize. It's so simple. iPod + iTunes = music in my pocket. Easy*. Everything else is a mess of incompatable formats, subscription packages, DRM nightmares and a headache that is just not worth the effort for an average consumer to figure out.

*Before I get yelled at for skating over the Apple FairPlay DRM - let's face it, is that ever really going to be an issue for most people? Few will even ever try to run their iTunes bought music on other devices. And if they are that technically savy, the'll just burn a music CD and re-rip the music DRM free in whatever format they fancy.

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Simplicity is hard

The problem for Sony and Nokia is that they are institutionally engineer-focused. All their 'smart' handsets are fiendishly complicated, with every feature under the sun thrown in, and buttons everywhere.

This is their mindset, and just ripping off the iPhone will not work unless they are ruthless about cutting stuff out, not adding it in.

Both of them really ought to know better, but anyone who has used a Series 60 (give it to someone who's never used one and ask them where the Settings are) or - worse - the Sony Ericsson M600 (you mean I need to use a stylus on this touch-screen phone?) will find it hard to see them make such a cultural change without a lot of pressure.

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A good article...for Tuesday's news

Interesting analysis of the emerging competition in the mobile music market, but seeing as this article has been released almost two days after Apple's new music announcements, it takes surprisingly little notice of how that changes the competitive landscape. As for Verizon's "US penetration", the iPhone price cut certainly sabotages that approach, and the world market will likely experience the iPhone interface through the iPod touch before Nokia has a chance to articulate its new multimedia message clearly enough. As for mobile delivery of downloads, the WiFi iTunes Music Store may do a very effective job of bypassing mobile carrier music delivery altogether, or relegating them to the data pipeline that they are, while surpassing 3G speeds. Open access WiFi may not have the ubiquity of mobile networks now, but the new developments from Apple should further encourage its penetration, once consumers begin to experience the new store themselves. As for Sony's new releases, who are you kidding? They have two hardly differentiated players competing against the new iPod nano at roughly the same price point!

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Missing the point

This article kinda misses the point.

The reason MS, Sony et al have failed to knock Apple off it's perch is because apple delivers what the consumer wants, the rest try to force the consumer into their own contrived marketing strategy.

Take the hardware - the iPod user interface is intuitive, easy to use, does not burden the uers. All the other devices come a distant second place when it comes to user interaction.

Take synching, i plug my iPod into my PC/Mac and it gets synched. Easy as that. I don't have to launch this, select that and feck about with the next thing just to get music onto my player.

Then there's the iPhone. When I saw it's user interface and features, I said to myself why were Nokia, Sony, Motorola not doing this 10 years ago? This is the way phones and players should work.

Sony, MS et al should put more money into developing what the consumer actually wants, rather than building a strategy and marketing policy and trying to shoehorn hardware and services into it.

SIt up and take note!

You won't knock apple of the perch unless you delivering what the consumer wants.

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Anonymous Coward

Yawn

You seem to forget, as do the 'competitors', that this whole game is about vision, and the journey to get 'there'. The competitors think that once they're 'there', their journey has ended and that's it, they've won. When, in reality, Apple has moved on. And it's difficult to hit a moving target.

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Anonymous Coward

I agree

this is a total non-story. And while big fickle corporations wonder what they want to force upon me next, I buy CDs. My attention-span is still long enough in order for me not to get all unhappy having to wait two or three days for them to arrive. I rip them to the format of my preference, highest possible quality, DRM-free. Wonderful.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Apple's trump card in this . . .

... is that they are not trying to control the supply of content to consumers; they are trying to control the consumer experience. Everyone else is either directly or as agent trying to control the consumption of content to maximise the extraction of cash from the consumer. Whereas Apple is setting a benchmark for an acceptable consumer experience, and offering distribution within that benchmark. Their DRM is proprietary to enable them to also meet contractual commitments to DRM-demanding content suppliers. If they licensed it, then, like Microsoft's DRM, all content would have to die on its own unless refreshed periodically, regardless of whether it ws "bought" or "rented". But with Apple's DRM, even if Apple disappears entirely, your collection of licensed PC's, and any iPods/iPhones/Apple TVs you choose to tether to them, will continue to work in perpetuity with that content.

The desire to control, manage and milk consumers will always fail for a large enough section of the market to keep Apple in business. There is simply no way to seriously hurt Apple by taking away distribution rights, because it is not a major part of their business, and if the old economy heavyweights insist, Apple will be forced into competition with them, instead of simply offering a distribution service. Content is created mainly by self-emloyed individuals, who require only capital and distribution to bring their creations to the world. Apple has both available if forced to step into that role.

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@Vorbis

"I tend to buy CDs and rip them myself. Why don't any of the majors players in this industry support ogg?"

If you have the CDs then dump them into iTunes in mp3 format and live a happy life. Why would anyone want to keep with ogg format??? OK, its going to take you a while to move the music, but just move what you enjoy for now.

Should not be an issue.

As for this article. Yep, an apple hater trying to make the rest of the world stand up, work together and beat apple.

Sorry, I have several mp3 players and I used them with iTunes cause it was easy to manage my music. After I bought a refurbed iPod nano first gen, I ended up stopping using those other players. They still work, they just are a pain to use.

My iPod just works, and works, and works. Hmmmm, that new iPod nano looks really interesting. With video too. Hmmmmm?? :-)

en.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Right about the software

I have a Vaio in my dead laptop pile - when I bought it in 1998 it was ahead of its time - had firewire (well, IEEE1394), two USB ports, nice black screen and was decently specced throughout. But the software that was bundled with it was utterly appalling to the point that none of it worked. Since then I've seen it with their webcams (terrible software and no driver information for any other platform), their phones (PC suites that work once and never work again) and indeed their NetMD players (just plain awful at managing songs). So however nice looking the players are, if they don't match iTunes, don't interoperate with iTunes or indeed work on any other platform other than Windows, Sony are looking at another turkey, more so now they are going to be reliant on the software as a revenue stream. I await the first 'Sony Music Store disables iTunes' story, followed by epic tales of woe in trying to get it just work.

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Silver badge

Well...

@Kenny Millar:

"When I saw it's user interface and features, I said to myself why were Nokia, Sony, Motorola not doing this 10 years ago?"

Because there was no such thing as an "mp3" format 10 years ago! And cellphones were, well, cellphones. Even stuff like "digital cellphones", "SMS" and even "Caller ID" were either premiums or nonexistant. Back then I was using my Ericsson, which had 4 "ringtones": Low, Med, High, Mixed. The most high-tech phone I remember back then might be the StarTAC. Flash cards were 20 *megabyte* on the high-end. When were you born? The whole mp3 revolution started somewhere around mid-1998: I remember it clearly because it was when I also got my first laptop (well, my own laptop, that is) and found a use for the 3Gb HD bestowed on my Fujitsu Lifebook.

Fast forward to now, I am happy with my W300i (damn I look like a SE walking commercial!) which has an iPod-ish interface (on the music selection, that is; now that was true innovation on the iPod), I can dump lots of mp3 on it by using it as if it were a Flash drive, no weird software required. IIRC, Windows Media Player has some nifty "sync" feature that basically does the same that iTunes does, but with *any* removable device. (just don't use the transcoder, it changes everything to wma!)

Oh, and well, I've noticed lately that there are a hell of a lot SonyEriccson's out there, it looks like the W series has sucsessfully revived the Walkman brand. My own W300 seems to be as common as the old Nokia 5120, back in the day...

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Anonymous Coward

RE: Well...

I'd have to agree with Daniel on this one as the W series of sony phones are very commonplace now.

I have had a W800, W810 and now a W880 and I have to say as a MP3 player it's great (not too bad as a phone either).

Do I want a iPod? No. Why? Because that would mean I had to remember to carry 2 things around with me, 2 things to charge and I'm twice as likely to lose, drop or generally bugger one of them up some way.

I maybe the exact sort of person that Sony is after and you may think I'm just a sucker for all their marketing, but I'm one happy sucker.

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Well...

@Daniel Ballado-Torres

"Because there was no such thing as an "mp3" format 10 years ago!"

Wrong. When I was at University people were into swapping Mp3s. And that was in 1995. Heck, Nullsoft wrote Winamp [Remember that] and released it in 1997. I wrote my dissertation on Mp3 and the music industry. And it always makes me laugh that they [the large labels] are still arguing about what DRM to use... You would think after 12 years they would give it up and sell them at a $1 piece... Oh wait...

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Err ... what?

"Because there was no such thing as an "mp3" format 10 years ago!"

Winplay3 v2.0 is dated 28.10.1996. How do I know? I have that and there was a lot of mp3's available then. Format itself is older.

" And cellphones were, well, cellphones. Even stuff like "digital cellphones", "SMS" and even "Caller ID" were either premiums or nonexistant.""

Really? Nokia 3110 was released 1997 and it's a GSM (=digital) phone with SMS-capability and Caller-ID display as standard, at least here in Finland. 2110 is even older.

http://www.gsmarena.com/nokia_3110-23.php

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SE Walkmans

While the "no such thing as an "mp3" format 10 years ago" comment was wholly unresearched, I agree with DBT about the Sony Ericsson Walkman phones.

I've gone through many Sony Walkman products over the years, from tapes to CDs, MDs, HDs and now flash phones. I have the w950i, and while it's a Marmite phone and many will hate it, I personally love it.

With the 8GB W960i on its way (Very sexy, http://www.sonyericsson.com/spg.jsp?cc=global&lc=en&ver=4001&template=pp1_1_1&zone=pp&lm=pp1&pid=10908) I think iPhone has a real contender. This phone is pure simplicity for transferring and listening to music. I'll be first in the queue!

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