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Sony, the original portable device maker, is struggling to find relevance in the digital music revolution. The company has clearly hit the panic button, what with pesky Apple’s iPod coming into its backyard and selling over 5 million songs within days. That must have hurt the […]

Sony, the original portable device maker, is struggling to find relevance in the digital music revolution. The company has clearly hit the panic button, what with pesky Apple’s iPod coming into its backyard and selling over 5 million songs within days. That must have hurt the Sony pride a bit … which explains why it is introducing, rather reintroducing Walkman as a digital music portable. Frankly, it looks like “Rio that went to LA for an extreme makeover.” Engadget has all the details. Thankfully it won’t make it to the American shores. Anyway I find it amusing that Sony is trying to reintroduce a brand that has more recall value for parents, than their digital kids. For me personally, Walkman reminds me of days I rather not be reminded of – white jeans, Huey Lewis and well…

  1. Virtually everyone thinks they’re going to create an iPod killer and take significant market share away from Apple. Yeah right. Its too late, Apple has the mind share and it only got better with iPod Nano today (Om Malik may not be too impressed by Nano, but lots of “mere mortals” who are not techno geek digeratis are already hooting and hollering).

    Lots of businesses can create an MP3 player from COTS hardware and some glue know-how. With enough fiscal resources and hardware (which Sony has), the hardware is essentially a no-brainer.

    Its the software stupid. Plain and simple.

    Sony does not have iTunes because Sony’s deep-rooted culture going back Akio Morita has never been in software. Sony has practically always licensed others’ software (Windows for its PCs, General Magic Magic Cap for then nascent PDAs, Palm OS for now dead Clié).

    Microsoft has deep-rooted software roots of course, but why did they miss the boat on a killer MP3 player like the iPod? One could argue that Microsoft doesn’t really get it when it comes to both hardware and human user interfaces (both physical and virtual). And they’re busy running around doing a gazillion other things (PocketPC, Outlook, Office, Cairo cum Vista (whoops, we missed that one by a decade), TabletPCs, ad infinitum.

    What’s cool is that Jobs understands human interfaces like very few. Who is Sony’s visionary? Morita may have been as close as they got to having a visionary in the past 20 years. Gates and chair-throwing-Balmer can lock in IT people, but they don’t understand how to cross sell to a mass audience with sex appeal. Job is essentially a genius rock star who has sucked a ton of people into his cult which has morphed from computers to digital music players.

    Oh, yeah, and why does iTunes and the iTunes store work well with iPod? Because, ummmm, Steve had this company called NeXT that created from scratch avant garde user interfaces that most people were willing to write off (e.g., G. Pascal Zachary who was writing Steve’s epitaph in the Wall St. Journal in the early 1990s).

    I wonder if Scoble was in diapers when NeXT was quietly doing great work and Sony was licensing Magic Cap? Oh Scoble, its time for your history lesson young lad.

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  2. [...] Business 2.0: Why Did ROKR fail and RAZR didn’t? Call it the iPod effect. Apple, which has sold 25 million units of its popular music player so far, has had a huge impact on product design in the consumer electronics industry at large. Now, perhaps more than any other industry, the world’s cell-phone makers are using the iPod to inform the design of their latest models. This holiday season, Motorola, Nokia, and Sony Ericsson will each sell high-end handsets that feature a complete design makeover. Sony Ericsson’s recently released W800 Walkman Phone – a palm-size device that includes a great MP3 player and megabytes of storage — features a sleek industrial design that’s helping it fly off the shelves, despite costing nearly $400. Meanwhile, Nokia’s steel-encased 8801, set to launch in the United States later this year, costs more than $650 and, with its brushed-steel exterior and handy slider mechanism, resembles something that came straight from Apple’s design labs. continue reading…. [...]

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