Sony still walks the Walkman

Apple might have grabbed the portable music player headlines recently with the many iterations of its iPod, but Sony is looking to make up lost ground in the territory it once owned.

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By  Simon Duddy Published  September 27, 2005

Apple might have grabbed the portable music player headlines recently with the many iterations of its iPod, but Sony is looking to make up lost ground in the territory it once owned. Sony was the original maker of the tape-based Walkman 25 years ago and is recycling the brand name to illustrate how it has spiced up the concept with its new MP3 Walkman. The product is available in two flavours, the 20GB NW-A3000 has space for up to 13,000 songs with up to 35 hours battery life and the 6GB NW-A1000, has space for up to 4,000 songs with up to 20 hours battery life. “The MP3 Walkman harks back to Sony’s innovation many years ago when it was first to the market with the Walkman and created a product type. The MP3 Walkman aims to recreate this in the modern age. The devices are available in both hard drive and flash memory configurations,” says Masaru Tamagawa, managing director of Sony. The Walkman is by no means the end of the IT and consumer electronics wizardry Sony has on display at the show. One of the highlights is Sony’s Grand Wega high definition (HD) TVs the vendor is excited about on the stand. “In this region, the most usual TV technology is standard definition (SD) but HD is becoming more prevalent in the West and it will catch on in the Middle East as well. We also have high-end LCDs at the show, which we will launch in a couple of months,” says the Sony managing director. Continuing the high definition theme, Sony is also getting excited about its new HD supporting consumer handycams. Sony says it is first to the market with consumer-focused HD models and has succeeded in getting the form factor down to an acceptable level. “We are also in the lead regards DVD format handycams, which give more convenience in terms of playback, storing on the PC and editing,” says Tamagawa. Sony has also introduced its first portable PlayStation, the PSP. The concept for the device concerns more than gaming, according to Sony. The vendor says it is also about enjoying MP3s, photo playback and even video playback on the same well-designed, cool portable device. It predicts the device will be a huge hit. Tamagawa has been based in Dubai for five and a half years, with a previous stint as general manager for Sony accounting for the first three. He says Sony has enjoyed healthy growth in this period, with double digit growth in 2005. He is very optimistic about the potential of the Middle East market, with its young population in contrast with mature markets in the West. “The population pyramid is different in the region, there is a large percentage of the population under 20, perhaps 60%. As these grow older and get jobs they will have increasing income and we will look to secure spending on our products,” Tamagawa concludes.

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