NY Times pans Sony Connect debut: ‘maybe they ought to call it Sony Disconnect’

“Sony Connect, the new online music service that opened for business on Tuesday [is] easy-to-use but, in its debut version, almost embarrassingly crude imitation of the music services that preceded it. The twist: You know how the iPod is the only portable player compatible with Apple’s popular iTunes music service? In the same way, songs from Sony Connect play back only on certain Sony music players (so-called Atrac-compatible Memory Stick-based players and MiniDisc players)… Unless you have a Sony player, Atrac may as well be 8-track,” David Pogue writes for The New York Times.

“A program called Sony SonicStage (for Windows 98 and later) serves as a digital jukebox… The ‘live’ area inside Sony’s enormous waste of pixels is much too small for the software’s seven columns of information (title, artist, album and so on). As a result, many song or album names are chopped off, abbreviated by ellipses… in most jukebox software – like Apple’s… you would simply adjust the column widths or hide the columns you don’t need. But the columns in SonicStage are fixed in width, and you can’t hide or rearrange them,” Pogue writes.

“Sony Connect is almost exactly like its predecessors – but less. Most songs are $1, but Sony arbitrarily doubles the price of any song longer than seven minutes… Sony Connect’s fine print reveals that you can burn only five standard audio CD’s. The other five must be Atrac CD’s, a kind of disc that holds many more songs but plays back only on 11 models of Sony CD players. (In other words, you can’t play an Atrac CD in your car, which is a chief reason for burning a CD in the first place.) Note, too, that SonicStage can’t rip audio CD’s [into] MP3 format… Software annoyances are everywhere,” Pogue writes. “When you search, for example, no progress bar tells how much longer you have to wait, so you conclude that the software hasn’t responded and pointlessly click again… The whole thing feels put together by accountants, not music lovers.”

Pogue writes, “You’d never guess that this service comes from a company that’s both the world’s most recognized consumer-electronics brand and the owner of one of the world’s biggest record companies… maybe they ought to call it Sony Disconnect.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: After reading Pogue’s far-from-glowing review, it doesn’t look like Apple has much to be worried about with this one, either. However, Sony’s deep pockets and marketing muscle should be respected and their next version bears keeping an eye on. Unless Sony abandons about thier Atrac-only and Windows-only stance, though, this service doesn’t look very promising.


  1. Every but Apple is missing the Mac crowd. Do they not realize the high percentage of mac user/audio pros/audiophiles? or that the average income of Mac users is like 15% higher than the adverage windows user? Im not saying every mac user is coverd in money, but to purposely leave out such a clear market segmant is just stupid. But I guess they also know that Mac users love QUALITY products, and thats why we would never use any of these crap-tacular services with bloatware wma formatted music

  2. It sound like it still comes down to Apple and Walmart. Although that Russian site seems like it could catch on (if found to be actually legal to use in the US) and guess what they made sure that it’s compatible to the iPod.

  3. rlhamon,

    No kidding about them making it compatible with the iPod. This is what I find so ironic in this situation. In almost every other market, once a product catches the public eye and becomes wildly popular, people start capitalizing on that product by releasing their own that are compatible/designed for it. In the current iPod scenario, all the other companies keep trying to convince the consumers that they really don’t want iPods rather than jumping on the bandwagon like they should. Weird, if you ask me. At this point, it’s fairly obvious that the iPod is going to remain dominant (how many “iPod killers” have been released now that no one knows or cares about now?). Companies should get a clue and hop on for the ride.

  4. LMFAO if it comes down to apple vs. walmart, this is over. lmfao..

    it’s ACTUALLY apple vs. subscription services..

    in other words..

    microsoft’s technology Janus

  5. Actually, the LA Times had an interesting point. There are about the same number of ATRAC3-compatible players out there (2.5 million) as iPods (3 million).

    Of course, how many of you think ATRAC3 sounds like “Eight-track 3”, as in some unholy marriage between eight-track tapes and MP3?

  6. Oh, boy. What can I say? Sony has a history of shooting themselves in the foot with proprietary formats that never are accepted by the general public.

    I’m afraid that this may be another one. Oh well…

  7. Joel, “people start capitalizing on that product by releasing their own that are compatible/designed for it.”

    You ARE seeing this with all the accessories released for the ipod. Other online music download stores and players can’t “jump on” because AAC/Fairplay is proprietary Apple. I do think at some point Apple will license the format out though to select partners like the HP deal and gain more mind share.

  8. Jack A:
    AAC is not proprietary to Apple. This is a common mistake, esp. made by some news media. From Apple’s website (http://www.apple.com/mpeg4/aac/):

    “AAC was developed by the MPEG group that includes Dolby, Fraunhofer (FhG), AT&T, Sony, and Nokia�companies that have also been involved in the development of audio codecs such as MP3 and AC3 (also known as Dolby Digital).”

    As you can see, evey SONY was part of the development of AAC. Anybody can license this high-quality music format.

    On the other hand, you’re right about FairPlay. It is proprietary to Apple.

  9. Sony’s history of low quality OSs continues unbroken. It’s odd that they have this great reputation, yet their software side of things is always awful.

  10. The Russian site is illegal not only in the U.S. but there as well (and the rest of the world). They are using a loophole in the law at the moment. The reason for the low price is that they are neither paying the artist or record labels for the recordings. They are stealing the music, something many support unfortunately. It will not last through the year.

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