Sony to take another swing at the iPod

Sony will later this year attempt again to take on Apple Computer's iPod digital music player in the key U.S. market, a senior Sony executive said Friday.

Sony is preparing to take another swing at Apple Computer's iPod digital music player, a top Sony executive said last week.

The company is developing a new music player that will go on sale in the US and other markets over the next year, alongside a companion download service and software, senior vice-president of Sony, Takao Yuhara, said.

The player will be typically Sony, he said, drawing on the company's strength in areas like design and long battery life.

Apple has a commanding lead in the music player market and is particularly strong in the US, where it's estimated to command more than 80 per cent share. Sony has tried to unseat Apple in that market before with little success, and its recently launched A-series Walkman digital music players are on sale only in Japan and Europe.

The new player will be lauched within the current fiscal year, which ends in March 2007, Yuhara said. He wouldn't be more specific, but acknowledged that the holiday sales period between the US Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays is an important time for consumer electronics products.

Sony sold 4.5 million digital music players in the year to March, and expects this to rise to 5.5 million in the current year, the company said Thursday when it announced its financial results. In contrast, Apple shipped 8.5 million iPods in the first three months of this year alone, it said earlier this month.

Sales of all audio products at Sony fell 6.2 per cent in the last year, to YEN 536.5 billion ($US4.73 billion). Operating profit at the division was YEN 2.7 billion, against a loss of YEN 2.4 billion in the year earlier.

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