It's taken Sony quite a long time to realize that Apple totally owns a market that should have been Sony's. The inventor of the Walkman went down more than a few stray paths in trying to come up with the digital music player equivalent of the Walkman -- and each time the company failed miserably, often because of value destroying copy protection forced on them by their music division. So, now, on the same day that Apple launched the iPod Nano, Sony is announcing their next generation Walkman. Of course, unlike Apple, which has figured out that the time to launch such a product is when it's ready to sell it, the Walkman won't actually be available for some time. So, the only reason to announce now was because Apple announced their thing. Of course, given the total dominance of Apple in this market, it just makes it that much more likely that Sony's announcement gets drowned out. In the meantime, though, Sony's big changes are a funkier design that's supposed to make it look like there's no screen, but the info displays directly on the plastic casing, and more advanced "shuffle" features. As for the funky design, while it looks good in some of the stylized pictures, a quick look at the press photos that go along with the original article make the plastic casing look... cheap. It looks like the sort of casing that will quickly get scratched and smudged, and suddenly won't look so funky any more. As for the more advanced shuffle features, they're touting their "time machine shuffle" which will now let you just play songs from a certain year. This is how they fight back against the iPod? Is there really so much demand to just hear songs from 1983 or whenever? Sony needs to recognize that the PSP is their new Walkman, and to focus on that as their core device offering.
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