Sony unveils MP3 player

11 May 2004

Walkman pioneer Sony has released its first own-brand portable digital music player, the Vaio pocket, with a hard-disk capacity capable of storing 13,000 songs.

The device was launched in Japan yesterday but Sony has not confirmed launch dates for other markets.

The company already has eight MP3 players but these are sold under the name of its Aiwa subsidiary. This will be the company’s first foray into the digital music arena under its own name, where it will hope to capitalise on the earlier success of its Walkman portable music player, which was launched 25 years ago.

The move pits Sony against Apple, the market leader in the digital music space with its iPod, which shipped 807,000 units in the first quarter of this year alone. All told more than two million iPods have been sold since the device was launched two years ago.

According to reports, the Sony Vaio pocket will have a 20GB embedded hard drive and will have a retail price of around 53,000 yen (€394). An Apple iPod with equivalent storage space sells for approximately €440 in Ireland, although Apple also has a 40GB model that costs around €540.

The VAIO pocket can also be connected to a digital camera and display photos on a 2.2 inch colour LCD screen. This feature will allow users to catalogue audio tracks with images, said a Sony spokesman.

By Gordon Smith