Sony Video Walkman to Challenge Apple?

by: David Jackson

Excerpt from our Wall Street Breakfast, a one-page summary of this morning's key market-moving and stock-moving stories:

Sony Walkman Wants the Spotlight Back [BusinessWeek]

Sony WalkmanSummary: While announcing five new Walkman music players on October 12th (image left; click for larger size), Sony execs inadvertently mentioned that Sony is developing a video Walkman. To better compete with Apple, Sony CEO Howard Stringer hired Apple software engineer Tim Schaaff (formerly in charge of Apple's QuickTime product), beefed up its software development, and hopes to leverage its multimedia and gaming technology and huge library of TV, movie and audio digital content. However, Apple now has an entrenched user base due to the proprietary encoding of iTunes songs, and other companies which already offer or plan to offer video players, such as Creative and Microsoft, aren't getting much traction. Audio Walkman details: size of a cigarette lighter; price is higher in Japan than iPods for equivalent memory ($240 for 4 GBs); Sony views superior audio quality as key competitive advantage, due to (1) noice cancellation technology built into the headphones, (2) "clear stereo," a system that better separates the left and right channels and stops audio bleed between channels, and (3) "clear base," which improves the bass response.
Related links: Background: Sony Press Release Announcing New Walkmans • Commentary: Seeking Alpha has an entire section devoted to iPods and Portables stocks.
Potentially impacted stocks and ETFs: Sony (NYSE:SNE) • Portable music and video competitors: Apple Computer (NASDAQ:AAPL), Creative (OTCPK:CREAF), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), RealNetworks (NASDAQ:RNWK), Sandisk (SNDK).

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