How Sony Cemented iPod’s Supremacy | iLounge Article


How Sony Cemented iPod’s Supremacy

In the March 2004 article “Heir to Walkman’s Throne,” iLounge examined three companies - Sony, Microsoft, and Apple - and the products they have touted as successors to Sony’s Walkman, or “iPod killers.” We ended the article without reaching a conclusion as to which of the companies’ products will actually replace the Walkman, though we did have some feelings on that subject at the time.

After three separate events last week, we now strongly believe that one company has effectively eliminated itself as a contender to the next-generation Walkman crown: Sony. Controversial though it may initially seem, we will explain our conclusion in light of the three bad moves Sony made over only several days time, including our hands-on experiences with the PlayStation Portable music, movie and game playing “Walkman of the Future,” Sony’s unexpected premiere of a completely separate “iPod killer,” the hard disk-based VAIO Pocket, and finally, its disappointing launch of the Sony Connect music store.

PlayStation Portable

Los Angeles is not the first place you’d expect a Japanese electronics giant to unveil its newest product, but with generally friendly journalists already in town for the annual Electronic Entertainment Exposition (E3) show, Sony couldn’t have picked a more receptive audience. And, in fact, it did pick its audience, restricting invitations to its downtown pre-E3 press conference, selectively denying advance requests from journalists to attend the event, and posting security screeners at its gates to turn away unwelcome attendees.

There was good reason for Sony to be concerned; skeptical journalists would have seen through the artifice it had planned. The debut of its PlayStation Portable (PSP) was to be a carefully stage-managed event, starting with the presentation of a supposedly working prototype of the device that appeared to be physically larger than the product Sony promised to deliver. Compounding the intrigue, Sony would never actually show the prototype playing a game; instead, it would only be used to show six or seven minutes worth of pre-recorded music video and movie trailer content. Finally, key developer Electronic Arts would present upcoming software on a large video screen - rather than on the prototype - and precede its showing with an unusually legalistic disclaimer: the audience would be watching a video capture from a PC emulating “early specifications that Sony released in their public statements about the PlayStation Portable.”

The quote seemed to confirm what developers had been whispering for days if not weeks before the event: as of May 2004, Sony hadn’t finished the device they were supposed to be manufacturing for a huge fourth-quarter 2004 Japanese launch, and no games were really ready, either. Only days earlier, The Wall Street Journal had reported that key game developer Square Enix - minority-owned by Sony - was “still not sure what Sony wants to do with [the PSP] - that’s a problem[,]” and didn’t know whether PSP would “be a game machine or a Video Walkman[.]” Consequently, Square Enix’s contribution to the PSP press conference was merely footage from a straight-to-video movie it planned to release. As the United States release date of the PSP had already slipped to 2005, even members of Sony’s hand-picked friendly audience began to wonder when and how the company actually intended to sell its new device. If PSP was to be the “Walkman of the Future,” some began to suspect that the future wasn’t about to start any time soon.

Many observers hoped that Sony would leak additional details on one of the three official days of the E3 show, but it didn’t. A small, roped-off section of Sony’s booth allowed people to stand in line to photograph or touch actual-sized prototype PSP shells, which were wired to display Evanescence music videos, the Spiderman 2 movie trailer, and pre-recorded game footage. Three kiosks, rumored to be PSP casings wired to PC emulation hardware, displayed modestly interactive game demonstrations. The Sony representative on the floor would not confirm whether the prototype PSPs were actually running the games they were showing, or whether they had working UMD discs inside. After extended probing, two noted journalists claimed that the only “real” prototype at the show was a larger-sized unit being carried in the jacket pocket of Sony COO and PlayStation creator Ken Kutaragi, a claim we could not independently verify.

More importantly, Sony refused to disclose at E3 two critical facts regarding the new platform: its price and actual battery life. Though developers have been led to believe the PSP will launch at a price point between $249 and $299, one Sony executive previously went on record with a 48,000 yen price estimate - translating to approximately $420 U.S. or 350 Euros. Sony representatives at E3 would only say that the company was waiting to see what component prices looked like closer to the unit’s release, and that the PSP’s battery might range in performance “comparable to portable DVD players” at “two and a half hours,” and music players at “approximately eight hours.”

Finally, as we discovered at the show, the weakest link in the PSP’s chain of Walkman appeal is its utility as a music player: you can’t record on its discs, only on Memory Stick Duo Pro flash cards, which are sold separately. As of today, it’s a foregone conclusion that any device based on pre-recorded discs or flash cards doesn’t have a prayer of beating the iPod, and this is especially true if either medium is a proprietary new Sony format. (Recall Betamax, MiniDisc, and any number of other Sony format flops.) But those are the only media the PSP uses, so unless your favorite artist releases music on UMDs or you want to shell out for the expensive newest-generation Memory Sticks (512 Megabytes = $250 and up), the only music you’ll hear on a PSP will be in the background of a game.

In sum, even if Sony’s PlayStation Portable turns out to be a popular portable game console - which would itself be a historical anomaly given Nintendo’s dominance with sub-$100 portable game hardware - we think that the chances of the device becoming the “Walkman of the Future” are close to zero. Unless there is a dramatic breakthrough in flash memory prices, the immediate future of portable audio entertainment is in hard disk-based solutions.

VAIO Pocket

In order to appreciate what we’re about to describe, it’s important to understand the corporate bureaucracy that is Sony, a Japanese corporation that includes several distinct subsidiaries, each a separate fiefdom with unique assets and a prince-like leader. Though all of the subsidiaries are overseen by Sony’s CEO Nobuyuki Idei, who was incidentally named one of the world’s worst corporate managers by Business Week magazine last year, each subsidiary operates more or less independently, developing products that compete with other Sony offerings almost as frequently as those from other companies.

Sony’s internal conflicts manifested most dramatically last week when two of its subsidiaries unveiled products that arguably contradict each other: in the Western hemisphere, a U.S.-based Sony executive was unveiling the “Walkman of the Future,” PlayStation Portable, only one day after his Japan-based counterparts had debuted the “iPod killer” VAIO Pocket, a hard disk-based handheld jukebox with a color screen. Assuming that the devices came out at roughly the same time - as they might if Sony intended to stick to its announced release dates - they would be competing iPod alternatives, each based on different technologies, media formats, and marketing schemes, yet both from the same company.

Clearly, the VAIO Pocket is Sony’s most desperate attempt to clone the iPod: it acknowledges the strength of Apple’s packaging by trying to be stylish, the simplicity of the iPod’s large touch wheel interface by using an odd square of touch-sensitive nubs called “G-Sense,” and the power of Apple’s chosen storage medium by including a hard disk.

More interestingly, the VAIO Pocket avoids all of Sony’s prior music and portable brand names, including Walkman, Network Walkman, and CLIE, instead relying on the branding of the company’s personal computer line. And it adds two features the iPod lacks: extended (20 hour) battery life and a color screen. The color screen can be used to display digital photos, but apparently not movies or other video content.

But in addition to being physically larger than the iPod - an issue that has dogged other iPod competitors - the VAIO Pocket, like the PlayStation Portable, has two critical Achilles’ Heels: the first is Sony’s proprietary standards. As is the case with Sony’s other digital music devices, the VAIO Pocket requires users to convert their songs into the proprietary Sony ATRAC audio format, which takes more time and hassle than transferring MP3s straight onto an iPod. Notably, users of other Sony devices have previously complained loudly about the poor performance and stability of Sony’s ATRAC conversion and uploading software.

The second problem is a high price: at 53,000 yen (currently $468 U.S. or 390 Euros), the 20GB VAIO Pocket will cost about as much as a 40GB iPod, itself currently a low seller relative to Apple’s more popular mini, 15GB and 20GB iPods. Given that consumers have complained about the iPod’s price, the prospects for a product that is relatively more expensive, larger, and requires ATRAC conversion software are very weak.

The Final Nail in the Coffin: Sony Connect

It would have been a bad enough week for Sony if the company had only shown two products that were unlikely to knock the iPod off its perch, but on May 7, the company launched Sony Connect, a competitor to Apple’s iTunes Music Store. Relying on a digital jukebox program called SonicStage, which pales in comparison with the sophisticated iTunes, Sony Connect cloned parts of Apple’s pay-per-download music strategy, but poorly.

Within days of its debut, Sony Connect had been roundly criticized from all corners, including deep complaints from The New York Times (“almost embarrassingly crude,” “maybe they ought to call it Sony Disconnect”), USA Today (“a flop,” “poorly designed,” “confusing”), and others. Not only did users and critics complain about the software and Sony’s music library, but prices earned scorn as well: Sony decided to ask double their standard charge for tracks longer than seven minutes in length, a perceived “price creeping” violation of Apple’s consistent and popular 99 cent per track philosophy.

Sony Connect’s biggest limitation: like Sony’s audio devices, it only uses songs in ATRAC format, which renders the service next to useless for both iPod users and those with WMA-based audio players. And its biggest “uh oh” for the future? Sony has touted Sony Connect as its centerpiece for selling music, and potentially downloadable games, for both the PlayStation Portable and VAIO Pocket devices. That’s only a good thing if you can accept the fact that you can’t easily convert anything you bought from iTunes, Napster, or other paid services and use it with Sony’s products.

Historically, Sony’s record with personal computer software has been terrible: application bugs, refusal to update drivers for anything other than recently-released computers, and other issues have plagued Sony’s PC development efforts. As a result, we remain skeptical of their ability to fix the problems with Sony Connect any time in the near future - and certainly even more skeptical that the company will catch up with iTunes or the iTunes Music Store.

Concluding Thoughts

Stepping briefly out from the curtain to offer a personal opinion as the primary author of this piece, I would like to add the following: after roughly a dozen years writing about electronic entertainment products, I’ve seen plenty of interesting new technologies - enough to know the difference between likely hits and certain misses. Last year, I was one of the first writers to publish a print article tearing apart 2003’s false prophet of consumer electronics, Nokia’s $299 N-Gage, which tantalized some writers and analysts by blending MP3 and game playing features with a cellular phone. Nokia’s size and large advertising budget encouraged less than critical early journalism on the platform, and it was only after the N-Gage crashed spectacularly on launch that supposedly informed critics were willing to publicly condemn it.

Given the tricks Sony appears to be pulling with the PlayStation Portable, from manipulating journalists to refusing to disclose key launch details, as well as the mistakes it has made with its ATRAC format, its consistently high pricing, and the near-universal condemnation of the only legal download service available for its platforms, I and we at iLounge feel quite strongly that Sony is too organizationally confused to mount an effective challenge to the iPod juggernaut. Even if we are wrong, and the company releases the PSP for $199, we think that its proprietary media formats and likely release date will cripple its appeal as an iPod-competitive audio device. At best, it will be the Gameboy of the Future, and nothing more. Similarly, even if the VAIO Pocket was cheaper and offered direct MP3 playback support, Apple’s lead with the iPod now is so large that Sony would be hard pressed to match it.

Some may prefer to dismiss our conclusions, especially in light of the otherwise under-critical press the PSP and VAIO Pocket have previously received, and particularly given that iLounge is, after all, an iPod-specific site. Bear in mind, however, that we continue to keep an eye on all emerging technologies, and have previously complimented iPod competitors when they have bested Apple on features or pricing. Our feelings about Sony’s PSP, VAIO Pocket, and Sony Connect should therefore be understood for what they are: critical, but reached after hands-on testing and serious consideration.

When Sony first disclosed the concept for the PlayStation Portable last year and called it the “Walkman of the Future,” it was clearly jabbing at Apple’s global success with the iPod. But after using and learning more about the PSP last week, we’re now convinced that Apple, not Sony, has already landed the knock-out punch in the Walkman wars. Only time will tell whether Sony will keep trying for a rematch, or take the wiser road and join forces with a clear winner. The sooner it abandons its obsession with proprietary encryption and storage mediums, the sooner consumers will return en masse to its products. In the meanwhile, the digital music revolution definitely won’t be waiting around for Sony.

Jeremy Horwitz is Senior Editor of iLounge and practices intellectual property law in his spare time. His recent book, Law School Insider, has been called the “best book about law school - ever,” and he continues to contribute to Ziff-Davis electronic entertainment magazines.

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First, I know plenty of people have said it, and you’ve ‘sort of’ answered it, but i still have to say this article is biased…at first this article pissed me off and made me sick that something like this would be posted anywhere besides a post at some random ipod lovers forum but i kept an open mind and read all the comments and your responces and then read the previous editorial about the next gen. walkman and have re-read this article and i still stick to my first impressions

first off, there is no reason at all to be comparing the PSP to the ipod, no way no how, ever sinse it was announced its been said its a game unit that will be able of more functions, at first it was gonna be more of a PDA type unit, but now i see is a next gen. portable game unit that has video capabilities and it has mp3 capabilities because they have nothing to lose, its just a nice extra like the ipod being to play little games and holding your address book and whatnot, its not a buying point…i’d be willing to bet half a leg not a single person is gonna go into a store and look at the PSP and think to themselves “wow an mp3 player that can play video and games”. why not look at it through the eyes of the designers…their goal with the psp isnt to beat the ipod…i’m pretty sure their gonna use the psp to go after the GAMEBOY market not only for the money but perhaps to eliminate their competition for the ps3 considering that 43% (i believe) of nintendo profits comes from the gameboy

I had a lot more to say but it makes me feel dirty arguing against a monitor but i’ll say a final piece…all i saw in the whole article is clear out bashing, it didnt seem like a journalist or even a common man trying to say their opinion, it just sound like a hunt, and you say this article is talking about the possible ipod killers from sony yet you attack the gaming aspects of the PSP and i didnt see even a single not a SINGLE possitive or even neutral remark about any aspect…again this is probably the first article i’ve ever yet come across that made me feel so sick inside and STRONGLY hope that you were just trying to feed some candy to your ipod readers but if these are your true opinions then i cant see how you can be trusted to report on anything

ps. and yes i know “my input is appreciated” you dont need to waste server space

Posted by IJ on May 25, 2004 at 8:06 PM (CDT)


I wouldnt be caught dead with an Ipod. You people are all so smug, on the train with your tiny white status symbols. Well, times up. The world is gonna be right side up again soon. Your time is up, Sony is going to take it back for the real people. What is IT? IT is the realm of technology. You mainstream fucks have no right being here. The Ipod made things so simple for you, for once in the industry, simply spending alot of money actrually got you the best. You’re the same people that buy Dells, and thought AOL was the shit. You people sicken me, this article which is pure speculation and propoganda sickens me, and the self indulgant posts follow it sicken me, but most of all, you people sicken me. I have bid my time long enough, living on IRIVER praying for the day to come. Well its almost here f*ckfaces. Your good times are over, Long Live Sony.

Posted by A real person on May 25, 2004 at 9:15 PM (CDT)


these messages have been brought to you by the Insane Sony Fanboys Society of America.

maybe it’s just me but i don’t remember seeing the article bash the psp as a game device even once. crazy people seem to read into this article whatever they want to read.

Posted by a sane person on May 25, 2004 at 11:10 PM (CDT)


my 02 XDA ppc is perfect! a phone and an OS I can play games, read and develop webpages on what more would you need? sure some more space would be handy ( I’ve got two 512 SDs) but thats why I have a laptop plus with the XDA I don’t have to worry about my hardrive crashing when I jog!

Posted by vished on May 26, 2004 at 12:32 AM (CDT)


I thought IT was the Segway, or was it that silly Sony corp that was creating it? So now the PSP is going to play games, movies, music, AND be the future of transportation!

Posted by JosephM on May 26, 2004 at 10:34 AM (CDT)


Sure all the features are nice, but only if i can use all of em on one charge. I don’t think the PSP can play a game, listen to tunes, play a movie on one charge. And afterall, most movies are over 2hrs *going off the low of the battery lifespan*

Posted by nayrk on May 26, 2004 at 7:13 PM (CDT)


Wacky Jack:  Xerox invented the word Xerox too, but when you hear that, typically you think of making a copy.  However, they make much more than copy machines.  It’s not the original intent of the word, but rather what it has grown to mean.  They call it the walkman of the future, to the average joe, that means music device.

They aren’t going to call their next LCD TV the playstation of the future just b/c they can.  They know good and well what it means just as they know what walkman of the future means.

Posted by mk on May 26, 2004 at 7:42 PM (CDT)


Not a mention of Sony’s new Hi-MD which is a logical alternative to iPod.  iPod is a great product which stood above a market saturated with inferior product.  But even Apple (ie. the mini iPod headphone jack fiasco) is no infallible.

Posted by Myke on May 27, 2004 at 7:15 AM (CDT)


So much hate…I thought the comparison was ‘off’ a bit, but not completely irrelevant due to Sony’s desire to push the PSP as a overall entertainment device. By ‘Walkman of the future’, they mean more than music (obviously.) Also of interest is how Sony has completely failed to extend the ‘Walkman’ name in any significant way since cassette tapes.

The comparison to the VAIO Pocket and to Sony Connect is much more valid and thus interesting. Both seem to be not only late but inferior to Apple’s offerings. This is the device that they are hoping is an “iPod killer” (although it obviously isn’t.)

Posted by madmaxmedia on May 27, 2004 at 5:36 PM (CDT)


Something else i dont think anyone has said yet…the Ipod has gone through a lot of changes sinse it first came out, they’ve had a lot of time to learn from mistakes. so considering that this is sony’s first hard drive player its an impressive player…especially sinse they’ve released info on the next product in the line which will play videos and mp3’s and has a 3.5 inch color screen…i wouldnt be surprised if by the time the vaio pocket came out in the USA they will have released a smaller and better functioning unit in japan….

Posted by IJ on May 27, 2004 at 6:25 PM (CDT)


Review of the Viao mp3/video player. 8 Hour battery life for audio playback - maybe Sony is using the same battery supplier as Apple?

Posted by That Viao on May 27, 2004 at 9:16 PM (CDT)


The only thing that will kill an ipod is something very similar to it, with all the same features, but cheaper.  But to do that, a company would be shooting themselves in the proverbial foot because the reason why an ipod is $300 + is because its not really cheap to make.  I assume…and you get what you pay for.

Posted by Roxy on May 27, 2004 at 10:40 PM (CDT)


One final note, as far as sony flash “Magic Gates”  This is a full year before the release of psp.  In a single year, prices can, and will drop for flash memory.

And…After reading the article, and all comments, I first thought the article was bias, but   A. All Jermey did was assess it’s music playing ability, which looks like its gonna be crapola, but personally, demographics for ds, and demographics for psp… I mean, do you wanna play Mario and metroid aimed at 7-13, or play metal gear acid.  Sony has realized that the most likely market to buy these games is 16-30 yr olds with lots of disposable income for tech. 

Because there are parents who will buy there 7 yr old child a 300$ ipod, or psp, but not many…

Personally i think sony should dump the idea of music player on psp…its a PLAYSTATION…  Movies for just being able to rent for a trip or something…

Posted by All a Matter of Perspective on May 28, 2004 at 12:49 AM (CDT)


The HMP-A1 is a product I’d consider buying. Even at $570, since it includes MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 playback (assuming the frame rates are acceptable, which is a big “if” given that mostly shoddy MPEG-4 devices have materialized in Japan, and assuming the MPEG-4 is not a proprietary version), this could be a winner for a certain audience. The battle over video in the next generation of portable devices will be fascinating, especially if Apple chooses to rely (as it probably will) on the proprietary Quicktime flavor of MPEG-4. An open player with open standards will be my gift of choice this coming holiday season.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz on May 28, 2004 at 2:56 AM (CDT)


One good idea (i.e. standard format) does not make you a super power in the technology industry. With this in mind it is easy to understand why Sony

Posted by lightyouup on May 28, 2004 at 3:04 AM (CDT)


I came in late to this.  I have photos, movies, games, music, a calender, an address book, and a couple of other things on my iPod including an OS.  Great product.  I own a PS1 and PS2, also great.  I just thought of the iPod as a music player funny. But then, I do sometimes listen to music on it.

Posted by Migwuk on May 28, 2004 at 6:46 AM (CDT)


I have read this article and comments with great interest and it’s good to have some dissent.  I do not htink I am even close to being technologically astute as some of you - but I know a little, and in my opinion the iPod is incredible.  I just got one May 8 for my b-day.  I marvel at how far we have come in music from albums to cassettes to cds to digital players.  I laugh when I think of the hours I would spend making mix tapes for a fraternity party that Ican now do in 20 mins.  So call me a lemming or brain washed, but I am sold on the iPod and I really don’t see many coming close in terms of design, aesthetics and performance (although to be fair I read a comparision on 30 different digital players in Cargo Magazine and still wanted the iPod).

For me this article brought back the funny memories of just having to HAVE a waterproof Walkman in 1981. The yellow ones you’ll recall.  I thought it was the end all be all - and for the time it was.  Now iPod holds that title.  I felt Jeremy had a well thought out and well developed article with back up.  Maybe the world has passed Sony by.  I clearly remember the time when the world passed Apple by.

I’ll say this - I do not on the whole care for Apple computers, never have, but bringing Steve Jobs back on the scene was a very smart move.  I doubt we would have had such a thing as iPod without him.  Of course, Bill Gates would have come out with one but only after someone had introduced it first - if you want to talk about copy cats.

Posted by Tennessee Bob on May 28, 2004 at 3:42 PM (CDT)


This article just reiterates the fact that this site is not the best site to depend on non-bias reviews of upcoming technologies that concern portable music, or any non-Ipod gadget.

I can always depend on this site as does its forums, to further assert iPod’s supremacy without a bat of the eye.

Just because Sony called the PSP the new Walkman does not mean the editors of this website should make the assumption that it was designed to compete with the iPod.

The Walkman, was Sony’s legacy. Of course they would use it as marketing stategy to promote what is perhaps the greatest attempt at a ubiquitous protable device since the last phase of the Walkmans.. This is the 21st century, why should any of us be surprised that technologie continues to integrate and downsize. It plays music to complement it’s gaming platform, not to compete with the iPod..

Trip pretty much hit all the complaints I have of the article and I applaud them. The whole hard drive statement really bothered me. Sony is not copying the iPod by using the hard drive but merely following the direction of the industry. I mean come on, the VAIO will be a JUKEBOX player, what do you expect Sony to use flash cards? Gees…I mean come on, it’s the only logical business decision. I would the editors would understand the different markets HDD and flash based mp3 players cater. Maybe Sony now feels it is the time to tap into that market

Yes, Sony with its propietary technologies has been a constant pain but people who own one Sony product also own other Sony products. The price of that highly expensive Sony Duo card also has other applications. I find it strange you decide to compare it to the price of the cheapest current flash medium which would be the CF cards. Why not compare it to the forefront of flash technology aka SD cards?

Also if you wanted to answer the question as to whether this was the Walkman of the Future, why not fault it on its own merits instead of the constant allusion to the iPod. Well, I take it back. This is iPodlounge after all.

Look, for all the people upset at the article. You really cannot expect that much can you? You own a ‘pod, and even I do but there is little in the article to think it was written without the zealous appeal to the iPod.

I don’t expect much from a iPod-centric site but good journalism should never be politicized.

Posted by Anti on May 30, 2004 at 1:03 AM (CDT)


bad biased article

Posted by bad article on May 31, 2004 at 4:22 AM (CDT)


The majority of technology users are not technically savvy, nor do they wish to be.  Simplicity is key, and one would think big business would get the hint from companies like Apple and AOL.

I’d like to see Palm devices with internal hard drives.  They already have all the software to play music, play videos, display pictures, process email, and perform many daily business functions.  All that in an easy to use, small hardware format would be a nice “iPod killer”.

Sony has a history of brute force to capture marketplace with proprietary formats.  Maybe this will teach them to wise up and play nice.  Until then, greed will cause Sony to fail time after time.

Never even heard of Direct Connect until reading this…..

On a personal note, I learned in the 80s not to buy Sony products for all the reasons mentioned in this article.  Some things never change.

Posted by Jeff on May 31, 2004 at 11:06 PM (CDT)


Well, i think that it IS the walkman of the future… in the way that it is going to make you feel like when the walkman was released… you had a portable gadget that played music! now, it is a portable gadget that has a playstation 2, a dvd, a mp3, and, if the accesories come to sale, a cell phone, a web browser, a gps, and a camera!
dont get me wrong, i love my ipod, and i think they are targeted for diferent markets. for example, i used my ipod just to boast about it, but i never really used more than 6 or 7 hours of music, wich is the same amount that my mp3 could store… the ipod its for the ones who love music, and that have a lot of music… but, i mean, i prefer to be loading the music that i prefer, than having a lot of music that i dont listen anymore…
PSP Rocks!! ipod Rocks, too!!!
p.s. when the psp comes out, im going to store my ipod, because im going to use my psp a lot more…

Posted by Nahum on June 1, 2004 at 1:24 PM (CDT)


....uhh…you Apple-Boosters just NEVER cease to amaze me. The iPod is a good product. Maybe the best available MP3 player. But, it’s not great, certainly not insanely great….but some people are insanely supportive of Apple no matter what. I currently own 3 iPods (long story) so, suffice it to say—I am a fan, but I have some how managed to maintain enough of a grip on reality to recognize that someone may come out with a better mp3 player and I keep an open mind when I hear about new products (quite a concept to you AppleFreaks, I know).  There is penty of room for improvement (battery life, audio quality, support for other formats, RELIABILITY….)

I am all too familiar with the instanity of the Apple CULT becuase I used to sell Mac’s. Maybe I avoided actually buying an Apple product, because you people SCARE ME! What is the deal, does Steve Jobs serve up a special concoction of Kool-Aid at MacWorld or something? GET A FREAKIN’ GRIP people! Apple is a technology company. They make some good products yes, some are even “COOL”. They also make some crappy products. I think that some of you would buy anything with the Apple name on it….(new! Apple iCondom! NEW! Apple iCar! OOOOHHHH!! It’S WHITE!......WAIT NOW THEY ARE COMING OUT WITH TRANSLUCENT MODELS! OOOHHHHH!!!! I CANT WAIT TO PUT ON MY iCondom, listen to my iPod while driving my new iCar with built-in iMac2.

Sheeessh…and people say that Microsoft wants to rule the world.

Posted by DontDrinkTheKoolAid! on June 2, 2004 at 9:40 AM (CDT)


One small detail that seems to be overlooked is this:

The PSP is a gaming device, which just happens to have limited music playing capabilities.  If the PSP is as successfull as the PSone and the PS2 there will be 1 million+ units walking around within a year.  As soon as people find out that their gaming device has a music playing facility they will use it.

Now, assuming you bought a PSP to play games and an iPod to play music, are you really gonna carry both of them around?  They are both quite bulky units.

I personally would dump the iPod at home and take the PSP.  That way I could play games and listen to music at the same time.

Posted by Xenoxide on June 3, 2004 at 3:39 AM (CDT)


Interesting article, but who the hell ever said the PSP was intended to be an iPod killer?

Jebus, some people can be very defensive.

Posted by Moorish on June 3, 2004 at 7:50 AM (CDT)


I have read through this whole article on a boring thursday afternoon, and am bewildered as to how some people are complaining, considering this is an ipod forum, then yes there is to be a slight bias towards the ipod.

But, the facts still remain that this article is examining quotes by SONY as being"the next walkman” or watever (and to the average person, the walkman represents portable tape players of the 90’s, not portable game machines), and “the ipod killer”.

Well if sony is to make these ridiculous claims then surely they should expect some back-lash off ipod lovers when these new devices are put out in front of potential buyers and seen to be total crap!! (with the exception of the psp, which might be a good portable game player, but a less than average audio player)

So why does SONY make these bewildering claims? DON’T KNOW! ask them!

and the ramark by trip person about apple pionering style… well apple has always put aesthetics and style ahead of many other factors, whereas SONY, Time, Dell etc have not. Hence how apple brought out such beautiful machines as the imac while typical pc manufacturers (including SONY) were still insisting on using beige square boxes! Apple is the Guchi of computer style, end-of argument. And since the iPod was released other portable player manufacturers have suddenly began producing products that TRY to be stylish… but fail in the wake of the iPod.

It really is that simple. The iPod is the market leader and will be for a long time if companies like SONY produce things like the PSP or VAIO and choose (out of their own will) to compare them with the iPod… its rediculous.

However, i recognise that this is an iPod specific forum, and that other PC (haha wat where they thinking :D lol ) using people find this article unfair and biased.

Posted by Me on June 3, 2004 at 8:42 AM (CDT)


I do not see why the two are being compared? The PSP is a gaming machine first and foremost, and all other capabilities are subordinate. E3 is dominated by the gaming/peripherals/hardware industry and that is what the PSP is designed for, gamers.

The IPod is cool and all, but SONY is trying to compete in the same market. SONY is competing with the newly introduced Nintendo DS portable gaming device, and any other comparisons are simply grasping at straws.

This is IPODLOUNGE however, so I expect less than stellar opinions of even the most vaguely related hardware.

Posted by Bobeotm on June 3, 2004 at 12:09 PM (CDT)


Correction: Sony ISNT trying to compete in the same market.

Posted by Bobeotm on June 3, 2004 at 12:12 PM (CDT)


“Clearly, the VAIO Pocket is Sony’s most desperate attempt to clone the iPod: it acknowledges the strength of Apple’s packaging by trying to be stylish, the simplicity of the iPod’s large touch wheel interface by using an odd square of touch-sensitive nubs called “G-Sense,” and the power of Apple’s chosen storage medium by including a hard disk.”

I have a problem with this on multiple levels. Firstly, hard disks are the only medium for cost efficient multi-gigabytes of storage. Using hard drives would only be natural. As technology progresses, business take advantage of new technology because consumers accept nothing less. If this was a MS player, it would not be successful.

I think it is comical how you immediately disregard Sony’s G-Sense as without merit and merely a “copy” of Apple’s touch wheel. I think your bias (or agenda) is most prevalent here because it is quite obvious that G-Sense is an improved method of input. The scroll wheel on the iPod is very limited with regards to moving around a user interface. You can only control the OS in two directions, up or down, or clockwise and counter clockwise. As operating systems on portable devices become more complex (because they do more), the scroll wheel will be too inefficient to use to navigate. With G-Sense, each area on the touch pad correlates with an area on the screen. So for example, the top left part of the pad interacts with the top left part of the screen. This makes the input device similar to an actual mouse on a computer, rather than only the linear scroll wheel. The Apple touch wheel is fantastic for browsing large lists as it is similar to using the up and down arrow keys on a keyboard, but is absolutely horrible for doing anything more advanced. Whether Apple develops an OSX like interface for the iPod depends directly on if they choose to keep or scrap the touch wheel.

Posted by br- on June 3, 2004 at 3:10 PM (CDT)


The Ipod has its limitations, being that it can only perform one role, music. The PSP isnt trying to become a music machine, but a gaming device that has that capability. If anything, it should be a good thing that sony has added that into the equation instead of it being purely a gaming device.

It’s obvious most of you are die-hard loyalists to Ipod, but to compare it to two devices that are in no way trying to be music exclusive devices is not fair. That would be like me saying Ipod sucks because it cant play videogames!

Posted by Bobeotm on June 3, 2004 at 4:12 PM (CDT)


I love my iPod. i coulnt live without it. i also coudnt live without my Playstation. PSP also suppoivelyis suppose to play music, meaning music CDs will be released on Mini discs. PSP isnt an iPod killer! it plays CDs. and, maybe, with the memory stick some MP3s. but i dont think its any threat to the iPod. at all.

Posted by Brendy7589 on June 3, 2004 at 4:49 PM (CDT)


Honestly as a Sony user, I love sony. Compared to other brands sony has always acheived a higher standard. As with any other business, they are looking to compete with better products. Although i must agree with the rediculous pricing of the 20gb vaio pocket and the not so wow sony ATRAC format, it looks very promising.
I own an ipod my self and i greatly enjoy it, but it would be cool if it did more than just play audio. I would have thought that when they created the belkin picture reader it would show the picture…but oh well.

Posted by J doc on June 3, 2004 at 6:31 PM (CDT)


Even as a gaming device, the PSP will not have a mass appeal success. It is trying to do too much, affecting its ability to be price competitive. The PSP is not a new technology, but rather a convergence of techonologies. Marketing history has shown that convergence is only good when you can make the extra features a bonus, not a must-pay-for feature. To date, there have been very few convergence products that still dominates the market. Stereos in cars might be one example, even then people still can choose to go without the factory installed one, opting for one of their choice installed on their own. And the key is choice. People can choose to pay for the extra feature and how much to pay.

The PSP will be relegated to a niche market, those who want games, music, and movies will be excited, but that will be far from everyone. Many people already have portable music players and will feel that the price tag is too high for an extra feature they don’t need. In addition, this convergence requires that owners migrate all their media (mp3 to atrac, new game discs). In comparison, the hand-held Nintendo price at sub $100 and backward compatible game library will have a clear competitive edge. It’s easier for people to spend $100 on a whim, whether for themselves or as a gift to their sons. Anything above that and consumers have to give serious consideration whether they really need everything the PSP has to offer. The PSP will not be the next GameBoy, much less the next WalkMan.

Posted by Starboard on June 3, 2004 at 8:58 PM (CDT)


I don’t really think any judgements should be made at this time.  The only thing we have seen is an underdeveloped prototype.  Atleast wait until it is officially released in Japan.  You cannot compare this mere prototype to iPod as of now, the iPod is a finished product.  The idea of the PSP is that it is a multimedia device.  The iPod is entirely out of its class.  Don’t get me wrong, the iPod is a very nice device, but there is only so much you can do with it.
iPod users will probably stick to using the iPod because of their familiarity with it, the PSP will most likely only cause a drop in sales of the iPod, not totally boot it out of the market.  I’m sure Sony will not let any of the playstation fans down with its main concern, the video games.

Posted by Nick on June 4, 2004 at 6:57 AM (CDT)


It’s funny how defensive Apple Folk get. Anyways, you’re comparing (no pun intended) apples and oranges; the PSP’s primary functionality is for playing portable, wireless games and playing movies. It has very little in common with an iPod.

Secondly, it’s not competing with Nintendo’s portable market on any level; the price point and content differences should clue you in to that one.

So why is there an entire article (this one) trying to deface it?

Posted by Jeff on June 4, 2004 at 8:29 AM (CDT)


ur comment on the iPod’s scroll wheel is totally pants… the scroll wheel is a simple device used for navigating a simple OS. Thats the way Apple intended it and thats the way it is. It will never be required to do anything more advanced, because apple will always make its OS simple, user friendly, and easy to navigate… thats the whole point! Thats one of the reasons the iPod is so damn amazing. “Complicated” is not in Apple’s vocabulary.
Whether or not the ‘G-sense’ is more complicated, shows that SONY doesnt have the competance or capabiliteis to produce something as simple and effective as the iPod’s wheel!

nuff sed!

Posted by Me on June 4, 2004 at 10:11 AM (CDT)


Most people who commented don’t seem to realise what the term ‘walkman’ means.  The walkman itself was Sony’s biggest achievement… most people call portable tape players (even cd players) ‘walkmans’. It’s like cola, does anyone order ‘cola’??  It crept into pop culture, and that’s what they want to do again.
When Sony says the PSP will be ‘the walkman of the future’ the average joe will be thinking it’s a music player.  Anyone in the industry will realise that they actually mean that they want to emulate the popularity of the walkman and not the function.  It’s odd that Sony would even say that, it’s just proving that all the other ‘achievements’ since the walkman are worthless.
I agree with the failings of Sony, just compare it’s entry-level DVD player with any other respected company… lose some options, raise the price.  As long as the public believes Sony means ‘quality sound’ it will still sell.
The VAIO is another odd one, Sony makes a 20gb music player yet they lead the fight agaisnt mp3’s… in Canada they pay levies on blank cd’s (might go to flash memory cards too, like the memory stick).  The money goes to starving record companies… like Sony… fun stuff

Posted by Insight on June 4, 2004 at 10:17 AM (CDT)


PSP will be big, because it capable of going online is the key. You will be able to play online every where you can get wirless signal. plus now Starbucks and other coffee shops have a wireless base setup.

I have seen a prototype of PSP set up in the car and playing music video on the screen. it’s pretty slick.

Posted by COOPER S on June 4, 2004 at 3:08 PM (CDT)


Sony is going to blow Apple outta the water.

I hope they’re ready.

Posted by 123 on June 4, 2004 at 6:50 PM (CDT)


I would think that the title of “walkman” would depend on the sales number. And from that angle, PSP should have a good shot at taking over Ipod in terms of sales, esp in Japan if they get dragon quest, final fantasy etc, and in US if the price point is right. If there’re great games on the PSP, it’ll sell. People are already so hyped up abt it like when the PS2 first came out though everybody said $299 was too expensive.
I too thinks that the article is too fanboyish hence the response. Same thing would happen at any other forums.

Posted by Wyl on June 5, 2004 at 10:09 AM (CDT)


Hey, did you see that Sony are *finally* paying the German dude Andreas Pavel the money they owe him for inventing the Walkman concept back in the early 1970s?

So much for Sony’s “innovation”:

“Now the 57-year-old stereo enthusiast, who works in Milan, is threatening to use his payout to sue Apple Computer, whose iPod portable music player is the digital successor to the Walkman.”

Posted by German Walkman on June 5, 2004 at 1:16 PM (CDT)


PSP will be huge, obviously not an iPod competitor but Sony marketing has always made strange claims like that. Thing is that Sony won’t go away, might not have got it right this time but they will.

JW - feels a bit unprofessional to keep replying to these mails. If you don’t want criticism don’t post.

Posted by Oliver on June 5, 2004 at 10:31 PM (CDT)


While i am sure it has been said in this mass of posts, but from what i understood sony never actually claimed the PSP to be the next walkman, from what i understood they said it was going to be as revolutionary as the walkman.

Posted by tomusan on June 6, 2004 at 2:43 AM (CDT)


In Japan they work really long hours….from 6 am until 10 pm a lot of the time. I personally think it’s because all of the companies have in-house massage parlors where the executives can order up a quick Happy Ending.

Posted by my iPod is nice on June 6, 2004 at 3:15 PM (CDT)


This was very entertaining to read, especially after my sony minidisc’s headphone jack recently came unsoldered. My ipod is on its way, and I hope it makes me forget all about sony.

Posted by fakecanadia in NYC on June 8, 2004 at 3:01 PM (CDT)


People talk about how Sony is making bad deciscions when they do something using proprietary technology, but what do you think Apple has be doing for years? You have to by any upgradable part of a mac from APPLE itself. It was only doing what apple has done (without complaint) for years.

Sony and Apple are good for different reasons, Every sony product I ever bought still works nicely, even my original playstation thats almost a decade old. Lets see apple make a gaming machine, and then you can talk about what is and isnt better.

Posted by Bobeotm on June 9, 2004 at 7:29 PM (CDT)


I am a big supporter of iPods, but if the PSP has any Final Fantasys I’m gettin’ int!

Posted by Tokanubis in Home/School on June 30, 2004 at 8:38 AM (CDT)


Geoff your totaly right,the ps2 is dully one of the most unriable console but it still sells even with the gamecube and xbox out. The grahics are horable and the ps2 always freezes, its never happened to me on the xbox of gamecube. plus what makes things even worse is that ps2 is stilll the most expensive console. plus is filled with a bunch of shitty games no1 likes, like mr moshkito…bak to the psp….its gonna rock…

Posted by Verged on July 3, 2004 at 12:55 PM (CDT)


It’s funny how the author says he didn’t mean the PSP will be a failure as a games machine when he made several less than objective comments on the playable demos showed at E3 (did somebody say fake PSPs?). I wouldn’t say that has much to do with music.
Please do not take it as an offence, other than that the article’s okay and pretty well written. I agree Sony’s policy on music formats is not what i’d call good, but i guess they’ll eventually learn from their (maaaaaany) mistakes.
I mean they have to… right?

Posted by Oz on July 11, 2004 at 6:55 PM (CDT)


I totally 101% agree with Jeremy that Sony has just shot themselves in their feet. Keep it up man, Jeremy. I love what you wrote. I think the entire Sony management badly needs replacement before they further go deeper down into the toilet bowl, haha. Long live Apple!

Posted by Richard Leong in Singapore on July 29, 2004 at 11:03 AM (CDT)


Everything I own is Sony.  Got the Vaio.  Got the Sony 5.1 surround speakers w/reciever.  Got the Clie.  Got the stupid alarm clock to wake me up in the morning.  And my car is more Sony than Dodge.  So, this post will be a little bias.  Sony is essentially doing the same thing as Apple did if you want to complain about the ATRAC format.  iTunes songs can only play on iPods…...ATRAC songs only play on Sony products.  In your article you made it sound so strenuous….“the VAIO Pocket requires users to convert their songs into the proprietary Sony ATRAC audio format, which takes more time and hassle than transferring MP3s straight onto an iPod.”  I’ve never had a problem with transferring stuff since a lot of my music collection is already ATRAC…or was.  I LOVE iTunes.  I have to admit that iTunes is awesome.  iTunes is a revelution though, like a lot of Apple stuff (iPod, etc.)  You can’t fairly compare Connect to iTunes in my opinion like you did up there either.  Now I could be wrong about this and they actually are, but you make it sound like the people at Sony stay up all night pondering “what can we do to compete with the iPod?”  No doubt they are attempting to battle it with their new 20GB walkman (why wasn’t that mentioned??) but they focus on all avenues of electonics. Now the world knows what I think.

Posted by Clint Warnica "Biggest Sony Fan...Probably" on August 4, 2004 at 8:30 PM (CDT)


Evanescence is also my favorite band so the fact that Sony chose their music video to play on the PSP is awesome.  Ironically, neither iTunes or Connect or Napster have Evanescence songs.  Hmmm?

Posted by Clint Warnica "BIggest Sony Fan" on August 4, 2004 at 8:35 PM (CDT)


unless its cheap, the psp’s going the way of the n-gage. the music and video’s a nice little add-on im not willing to pay extra for.

Posted by mhzmaster on August 4, 2004 at 10:50 PM (CDT)


Nintendo is the iPod in Portable gaming, so it would pretty hard for sony to succeed there too.

Posted by Thomas_A in Portland, OR on August 16, 2004 at 4:39 PM (CDT)


wow, WebsnapX2 was right.  the ps and the ps2 were so sucessful because they weren’t nailed down by proprietary media.  i guess that the psp could be a flop too, because sony (yet again) is trying to stick in another proprietary format.  and geoff, if you’ve been reading ds articles lately, you’ll realize that the ds is only compatible with GBA games, and not gbc and gb games.

Posted by creamsoda in toronto, canada on August 21, 2004 at 7:37 PM (CDT)









Posted by decodergrizzly on August 27, 2004 at 1:59 AM (CDT)




Posted by decodergrizzly on August 27, 2004 at 2:12 AM (CDT)



Posted by decodergrizzly on August 27, 2004 at 2:24 AM (CDT)




Posted by decodergrizzly on August 27, 2004 at 2:48 AM (CDT)


Stop your whinging iPod is reasonably priced, a external 20gb hard drive would cost you £150, you can buy a device that connects to external hard drives/pen drives for £40, for a backlight a torch £9.99, look at the cost £200. and would it be sexy and stylish, I think not.So for £215 buy a 20gb iPod forget all other things nothing can beat it. Your £15 goes to style and pure class.

Posted by ipodlovershameaboutthebatteries in London UK on September 2, 2004 at 3:28 PM (CDT)


The only reason the Ipod is so popular, is because of the advertising. You don’t see sony, creative and other company’s advertising their mp3 players, do you? Not many people gave a sh*t about apple before the ipod was released, and the period of time between when the original ipod was released, and when it got popular is quite large. It’s all well and good for apple now, but I wouldn’t give it too long before their medal is taken away, and given to another company. It’s already no longer the smallest hdd mp3 player.

Posted by Who on September 21, 2004 at 6:42 PM (CDT)


what does x-box have to do with iPod?

Posted by iigloo on October 19, 2004 at 12:52 PM (CDT)


He’s not talking about Playstations AND Playstation 2s. He was talking about GameCube vs. XBOX vs. Playstation 2. Playstation 2 did have the lead when the systems just came out, but after 3-4 years don’t you think thney would have caught up? And if you want to look at it monthly, GameCube sales skyrocketed when they dropped to $100 compared to the other systems, not just “edged-ahead per month”. Heck, if your going to consider Playstation, you might as weel compare Playstation & Playstation 2 vs. Gamecube & N64 vs. XBOX and Windows XP sales. Heck, compare Playstation & Playstation 2 vs. Gamecube, N64, SNES, & NES vs. XBOX and Windows 1.0 - Server 2003 sales. Those comparisons are just as fair as yours!

Posted by Slippy Douglas on October 21, 2004 at 12:04 PM (CDT)


>Not only that, the DS will have a second cartridge slot on it to, you guessed it, play GameBoy and GameBoy Advance games, meaning, the DS will have the largest library of any game system released to date.<

Yea I with you. Nintendo is very smart and knows how to make their electronics cheap, and they also have a really good idea putting every single Gameboy, Gameboy Colour, Gameboy Advanced games playable on the DS. I’m not really sure though what system I should get when they come out. I do like the fact the the PSP has a really nice big-widescreen display :D. I do have to get more info though, so that doesn’t really matter now, since PSP isn’t even out here yet.

Posted by pYro in Canada on December 4, 2004 at 8:49 PM (CST)


Sony are trying to do too much at the same time, they are trying to beat the iPod and the Nintendo DS at the same time, with the same machine.
Personally I belive the Ds is better than the psp and the ipod is obviously the mp3 player out there.
Personally I’d prefer having an iPod and a DS rather than a PSP.

Posted by d_mented7 in In Front of my PC on January 16, 2005 at 12:00 PM (CST)


The night of the Tsunami Special on NBC they said the recordings were available on Sony Connect…what a great opportunity for Sony to show what they had to offer to the masses. But lo and behold I couldn’t download the software onto a very new HP laptop, said I needed to download something else of which a window opened asking if I would like to download now, clicked yes and nothing happened. If others ran into the same problem, then its over for Sony. Anytime you download Itunes or Itunes updates they always work, Apple has working software that doesn’t have bugs and is always reliable. Its over for anything close to a walkman from Sony. The term walkman and the walkman product are now IPOD….period….can you say VHS/BETA…..Sony will not recover from this blunder.

Posted by Itsoversony on January 26, 2005 at 6:18 AM (CST)


Um, I think you should take a look at the new Mini Disc models comingi in April.  Unlike the photo ipod, you can actually take/view photos and RECORD and playback music (including mp3s).

Posted by ewakko on March 12, 2005 at 11:03 PM (CST)


All you I-pod fans how are hating the PSP STFU! until you have one you cant say this bull-shit about it, cause that why i was drawn away from it from the begining! Everyone was saying that it takes for ever to load up a game, the screen is very fuzzy, mp3 and mp4 files cant be transford without a program from sony, THATS TOTAL BULL-SHIT, all you do is click on the file you want and drag it to the psp logo and your done, cant’ be easier than that!!!!!! I am not saying anything bad about the i-pod beacuse i have a 40-g i-pod and im lovin it, it sweet! but, I also have a PSP that i got two 3 days ago and you cant compare them because they are totally different. that topic that says that the Ds and PSP are very similar is misleading, PSP has better resulution that both of the DS screens combined, and i also have had no problems what-so-ever with it, its just fucking stupid dumb ass people that cant afford it so they talk shit about it! That dumb ass mentions that PS2 went through 7 revisions,  unless you know ur fuckin facts shut the fuck up, how come you didn’t mention all the revision of Xbox and i-pod, bet you don’t know that one peice of shit! If your going to play gameboy games on a DS you have no fucking life! now going back to topic, the PSP is covered with aclear plastce cover over the black paint that makes it look kick ass. So unless you have both i-pod and PSP don’t say shit for them, I know I’m not because i had my i-pod for almost 2 years and have no problems i have i think 1471 songs on and it works flawlessly, but i will say that it is kind of big for just songs, and PSP looks a lot better. What i don’t understand is why people compare PSP yo i-pod, why don’t you compare i-pod to psp! I f you haven’t played on the PSP yet you should, the movies look so real on it, i was ablout to shit my pants when i saw the spiderman 2(GAY MOVIE) on it, it looked so real with the amount of clarity and reslution on it!i love them bothm thats all i got to say!

Posted by iggi on March 28, 2005 at 9:07 AM (CST)


Great article. Very interesting indeed. I can’t actually believe that a bunch of Sony fans have crashed the “party” so to speak, but oh well. If they are so Pro-PSP you have to wonder what they are doing on an iPod dedicted site.

To me, after looking at both of the new SONY Products it’s blatantly obvious that the iPod thrashes it in just about every aspect. Even if it were a good product from SONY, Apple have such a strong base of users and such a strong product it would be difficult for thier rivals to catch up. As it stands, SONY has a seemingly inferior product. Worse still, they themselves seem to be just as confused as anyone viewing the new product is.

Being a big supporter of the beleagered video games company SEGA I know what it’s like to see a product launch that everyone knows is just going to get thrown to the wolves. I saw it with the console that PlayStation thrased, coincidently, the Sega Saturn. I can say with all honesty the misgivings I had about that product and the feelings of impending doom, they are present with SONY’S latest offerings.

I’m not saying SONY is out of the race entirely, but if they continue like this there is no way they will even touch the iPod. Regardless of what comes from them next, I feel the damage may have already been done. As is blatantly obvious - iTunes/iPod work, Sony Connect/PSP do not. Simple really.

Posted by BeatJunkie on July 1, 2005 at 2:51 PM (CDT)

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