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
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.”
The new and improved Walkman.
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.