“It might have been a coincidence, but it still must have hurt. Sony Corp. last fall booked a Tokyo nightclub for the unveiling of its latest Walkman music players. But halfway around the globe in San Francisco, just hours before Sony turned on the strobe lights, Apple Computer Inc. introduced the business-card-sized iPod nano. Although the nano isn’t aimed at precisely the same market as the new Walkman, many saw the confluence of events as deeply symbolic: Here was the Japanese electronics giant that had pioneered the portable music market 26 years ago taking yet another body blow in a fight that it should have dominated,” BusinessWeek reports. “Today, although iPod is still kicking the stuffing out of Walkman, Sony’s offering is finally putting up a decent fight. In January, Apple had 45% of the Japanese market for digital music players, vs. 15% for Sony. That’s a modest improvement for the Japanese company, from the 53%/11% split a month before the new Walkman hit store shelves, according to research firm BCN Ranking.”
In the United States, Apple’s iPod “has 74% of the U.S. market, compared with Sony’s 2% — and even offerings from smaller rivals such as SanDisk, Creative Technology, and iriver, according to researcher NPD Intellect,” BusinessWeek reports. ‘the new Walkman has some serious disadvantages. About the size of a deck of cards, the $280 NW-A3000 Walkman is bigger than the $300 iPod, but it offers just 20 GB of storage space (enough for about 5,000 songs) compared with the Apple machine’s 30 GB. And Sony’s Connect music site in the U.S. is no match for Apple’s user-friendly iTunes software and music store. “The new Walkman is better than what Sony had before, but I don’t think that many people are going to go out and buy one,” says Ming-Kai Cheng, an analyst at brokerage CLSA. And with the latest iPods offering video, the music-only Walkman has more catching up to do… The iPod’s elegant click-wheel, simple software, and countless adapters to plug into a car or home stereo have helped give Apple an edge, too. In 2005, Apple shipped more than 32 million iPods worldwide, says researcher Gartner Dataquest — seven times Sony’s forecast for the Walkman for its fiscal year ending Mar. 31. Facing numbers like that, even a distant No. 2 might well be considered a victory for Sony.”
Full article here.
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