RealTime IT News

Sony Planning Video Walkman?

Entertainment giant Sony reportedly has a video Walkman on the drawing board and is making plans to increase its share of the digital music market.

However, analysts say for Sony to be a success, it must remake itself.

In Tokyo, Sony's senior vice president told reporters the company is developing a new Walkman capable of handling video.

Hiroshi Yoshioka didn't provide details and Sony did not return calls from internetnews.com.

"Sony should have a play in this area -- the big question is what is it?" Roger Kay of Endpoint Technologies Associates, said. If it is just another iPod-like device, "it could be ho-hum," Kay said.

Sony, whose Walkman sparked the portable music era, has seen that dominance vanish.

The company was "darned near wiped out" by Apple's iPod, according to Rob Enderle, principal analyst with the Enderle Group.

Now Sony "is not even a player; they are so out of the league no one takes them serious."

However, that hasn't stopped Sony from trying. The company unveiled two new versions of its digital music player, renamed "Walkman."

Walkman
The new and improved Walkman.
Source: Sony

The 20GB NW-A3000 and the 6GB NW-A1000 includes a "My Favorite Shuffle" feature allowing users to pick from the most-listened-to 100 songs which are then randomly played. The devices have a four-way directional button for selecting commands.

Users can also search through three years of playback history, according to Sony.

The new Walkman features MP3 and ATRAC3plus playback and can access Sony's online music store.

Protecting that content has hurt Sony, Enderle believed.

Instead, the entertainment company must advocate for the user, focusing on the best device. Sony has destroyed compatibility by requiring devices to work with their DRM, their memory cards and even their DVD specifications, according to the analyst.

Kay said Sony was considered "asleep at the wheel when it comes to digital media." The entertainment giant's Walkman brand is now seen as "retro," according to Kay.