Sony Ericsson is to launch a series of mobile phones with music playing capability under the Walkman brand. The first of these will be launched next month and further models are due for release later this year.
The mobile phone maker already has music-capable mobile phones on the market but the new Walkman models will have more features and will also take advantage of Sony’s Connect music downloading service.
Outlining the features of the product set, the company said the handsets would include software that made it easy for consumers to copy music to the device, as well as having large storage capacity for music files. Long battery life would be another factor. According to Sony Ericsson, the phones will be based on open standards.
On the phone side, the company promised functions such as quality voice reception, messaging, imaging, and online connectivity. It said that such a device would appeal both to consumer needs and to mobile operators looking to develop new services.
Miles Flint, president of Sony Ericsson said at the launch: “The Walkman showed us that people of every generation love listening to music while on the move, and we believe the mobile phone is the perfect device to extend the world of digital mobile music to a much wider audience.” Sony has sold more than 340 million units of Walkman branded music devices worldwide since the original device was first launched in 1979.
Sony Ericsson said that the Walkman-branded phones will support the most popular digital music file formats and services. “Sony Ericsson believes that supporting open standards is the best way of offering operators and consumers both the highest quality and widest choice of services to meet their individual needs,” the company said.
Supporting this stance, Sony Ericsson announced a collaboration with Sony’s digital music download service Connect, which is currently available in the US, UK, France, Germany and the Netherlands and is still expanding. Sony claimed that hundreds of thousands of registered subscribers use the Connect service.
The Walkman launch was one of many music-related announcements made at the 3GSM World Congress in Cannes, signalling serious efforts by the mobile phone industry to capitalise on digital music’s popularity. Earlier the same day, mobile phone maker Nokia agreed to carry Microsoft player software on its handsets. Motorola meanwhile unveiled a music phone that comes with Apple’s iTunes software preinstalled.
By Gordon Smith