Apple blasts Sony on misleading Walkman song capacity claims

Apple Computer Inc., aiming to protect the lead of its iPod digital music player, launched a verbal strike against rival Sony Corp.’s new Network Walkman music player, which is designed to be an iPod killer,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

“In a prepared statement, Apple said Sony isn’t accurately depicting the song capacity of its new 20-gigabyte Network Walkman. While Sony says the device can hold 13,000 tracks, Apple alleges that the Japanese electronics giant, in calculating the storage capacity of the Network Walkman, is using songs that are compressed into digital files of inferior fidelity to those that Apple uses to calculate how many songs the iPod can hold. (Digital music of lower quality takes up less storage but delivers poorer sound than high-quality songs.) As a result, Apple said, Sony’s Walkman actually holds only 4,800 songs that have been compressed into a higher quality format,” WSJ reports.

“‘We’re disappointed that Sony, which is new to this market, has decided to make their first impression by attempting to mislead the press and customers,’ Apple said in a statement. ‘Sony chose to play marketing games so we wanted to set things right so that people could compare the devices apples to apples,’ said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of hardware product marketing,” WSJ reports. “Sony reacted angrily to Apple’s statement. Todd Schrader, Sony Electronics’ vice president of portable audio products, said the ‘Walkman has always been about choice.'”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Taking a page out of the Microsoft playbook, Sony is playing on the ignorance of the general public. Apple is right to correct Sony’s misleading claims publicly. If Sony has to stoop so low immediately at the product’s introduction, they must be very desperate indeed.


  1. Astounding. I thought something wasn’t right about those numbers and saw that the ATRAC had a higher compression and lower quality. Glad they spoke up.

  2. Looks like Sony dropped another one. I can fit 22,648 songs ripped as 24 kbps mp3’s on my 20 gig ipod once again proving Sony has produced another piece of crap.

  3. More evidence that Sony is desparate. Sony is the Oldsmobile of the portable audio market. Also Sony is increasingly associated with BAD QUALITY. They have skimped too much too often.

    Young people have NO INTEREST in Sony.

  4. Apple should have got someone else to make this statement. If you’re the market leader, you should never talk about your competitor’s “inferior” products. It gives the public the impression that you think they are a legitimate threat.

  5. anyone notice how the Inquirer tried to spin something like this negatively? all it could concede is that Apple has a point, but apparently, Greg Joswiak reacted with emotions bordering on rage. Where do they get this stuff? Also, no mention of iTunes sampling rates vs. Sony, besides the Sony line of consumer choice of sampling rate, not Apple’s. Uh – not Sony’s idea of high fidelity either.

    It’s amazing to me how bad the Inquirer is that they can try to spin this story back against Apple. There is no parallel between the Sony fiasco vs. Apple’s G5, for instance, but they try to make that into a point.

    And yes, Sony is completely irrelevant. They thought they could pull an iPod – i.e. have music drive hardware sales. Well, a 20Gb iPod costs less than the Walkman, ATRAC sucks, and their music store is pathetic. They have become the Microsoft of entertainment electronics, and Apple is beating both Sony and Microsoft.

    Who cares about Sony anyway? All this talk of patriotism, and all you read in the papers is about how the iPod killer is arriving, Sony this, Sony that. Yes, the devices are all made in China or Taiwan, but at least Apple is a completely American company with its headquarters on American soil – not Cayman Islands.

  6. yes Dave, apple needs a thurrot like mouthpiece, ostensibly impartial but yakking the company line.

    The other problem with this is that most customers don’t understand or care about this stuff and will buy on price and “features”. Which is ok. The difference in quality isn’t noticable to 99% of the market.

    Yuppies with a new ipod equipped BMW excepted of course.

  7. Two things struck me about this apple statement:
    1) Apple must think Sony is competition
    2) It is refreshing to see an agressive Apple, who will defend the iPod and scratch the eyes out of anybody trying to compete with them. It’s almost like they are saying “Sony, don’t bring a knife to a gunfight or we will shoot ya down!”

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.