The product will be available in Japan and Britain before Christmas, although the rest of Europe will have to wait until after the new year. (An MP3-compatible Walkman with 1 GB of flash memory is already available in the U.S.)
The fact that Sony's finally coming around to the importance of MP3 compatibility isn't exactly news. In fact, I wrote about Sony's plans to support the MP3 standard back in September; previously, its players supported only its proprietary ATRAC format. Back then, word had it that Sony wouldn't launch this more appealing Walkman until early in 2005 -- I wondered at the time whether that would be too little, too late.
Obviously, Sony needs to jump fast, given the competitive landscape. Apple
Indeed, everyone from unfamiliar upstarts to Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick Dell Computer
Sure, Sony is bettering its odds for rapid adoption with a new hard-drive-packing, MP3-playing Walkman that closely mirrors the iPod. However, given the imminent launch of this product in Britain and Japan and no word on whether it will be available in the U.S. before this year is done, one might wonder what Sony's waiting for -- or whether it already considers the U.S. to be official iPod territory this holiday season.
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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.