[CNET] Sony revives the Walkman for the MP3 age...

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From: Adam Rifkin -4K (adam@XeNT.ics.uci.edu)
Date: Thu Aug 17 2000 - 18:10:22 PDT

The Sony PEO sounds like the nicest PDA this side of the iPaq:


On the other hand, Sony's Bluetooth Info Schtick (slated for release
next year) sounds like the stuff dreams are made of...


Also, the resurrection of the Walkman name is a great move. Brand is
everything, and Sony is still the master of the brand...

> Sony resurrects Walkman brand for MP3s
> By David Becker
> Staff Writer, CNET News.com
> August 17, 2000, 4:40 p.m. PT
> SAN FRANCISCO--Dig out those skinny ties and Jazzercise tapes: The
> Walkman is coming back.
> Sony's groundbreaking portable music player, a cultural mainstay of the
> 1980s, has languished in the past decade, as CDs and other digital music
> formats have displaced cassette tapes.
> But Walkman is still a valuable brand name, according to Fujio Nishida,
> president of Sony Electronics. So the electronics giant plans to
> resurrect the name for all of its portable music players, starting later
> this year with a new line of MP3 Walkmans.
> In addition, expect Sony to dive into the market for Internet devices
> and cell phones, Nishida said during a press briefing today in San
> Francisco. Sony intends to develop an Internet appliance "that's much
> easier (to use) even than WebTV," Nishida said.
> The new Walkman lineup that will come out this year includes the MS
> Walkman, a digital player based on Sony's removable storage medium
> called Memory Stick. Sony previewed the MS Walkman, about the size of a
> Milky Way, last November at Comdex.
> Also in the pipes is the MC Walkman, a player that uses Sony's MiniDisc
> format but also incorporates a digital-to-analog converter for loading
> MP3 audio files from a PC.
> "We have to revitalize that Walkman brand," Nishida said. "It's such a
> huge asset, like Trinitron," Sony's ubiquitous color-screen technology.
> The new music players will come with a major advertising campaign
> featuring an alien mascot that looks like a cross between E.T. and a Smurf.
> Nishida also revealed plans for the Info Stick, a device that will fit
> in any Memory Stick slot and transfer data via a wireless connection to
> another device using the Bluetooth standard. The Info Stick is expected
> to hit the market next year.
> Nishida also broadly commented on Sony's evolving plans to capitalize on
> the spread of broadband Internet access by entering the Internet
> appliance market and resurrecting its cell phone business.
> Sony had given up on the cell phone market because the business model
> has been dictated by wireless carriers for all but the two or three
> biggest handset manufacturers, he said. That should change during the
> next couple of years, however, as third-generation handsets enter the
> market to capitalize on wireless Internet access.
> "Broadband is changing the landscape of the business," Nishida said.
> The broadband boom is also pushing Sony to work on its own entry into
> the increasingly crowded market for Internet appliances. Nishida said
> there's still room in the market for anyone who comes up with a better
> user interface.
> Nishida also announced the following:
> Sony's upcoming Palm-based handheld computer will be called the PEO,
> short for Personal Entertainment Organizer.
> The ongoing components shortage is affecting even those companies
> that make their own chips. Nishida said sales of DVD players have
> suffered because Sony can't pump out enough of its digital signal
> processors. "If we had enough product, they easily could achieve 1
> million unit sales" this year, he said.
> Music buyers will have another format choice by the end of the year.
> Sony will introduce in America its SA (Super Audio) CD player, already
> available in Japan. The format promises better audio quality by cramming
> nearly twice as much data onto a disc--for a price. Players will be in
> the $2,000 range.
> Sony doesn't expect that American sales of its PlayStation2 game
> console will cannibalize sales of CD players, as has happened in Japan.
> The consoles play both game discs and DVD movies, a major selling point
> in Sony's home country, where DVD players still carry premium prices.
> Nishida said more than 50 percent of Japanese consumers over 30 who
> bought a PlayStation2 did so primarily because of its DVD capability.


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