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Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Sony to Support Apple's AAC Format

In an announcement that could be considered as a symbolic concession to Apple, Sony on Tuesday said that it will make its latest music management software compatible with the AAC data compression technology used by Apple.

The change will enable users of some types of Walkman digital audio players to listen to music imported from Apple's music management software.

In April, 2003, Apple Computer brought mainstream attention to AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) by announcing that its iTunes and iPod products would support songs in MPEG-4 AAC format (via a firmware update for older iPods), and that customers could download popular songs in a protected version of the format via the iTunes Music Store. AAC has now become so associated with Apple hardware and software. Optionally, a digital rights management scheme (named FairPlay) can be employed in tandem.

Sony long clung to its proprietary data compression technology, known as Atrac. It has since turned to an open-door policy, embracing such popular formats as MP3 and Microsoft's WMA.

Still, the electronics manufacturer's acceptance of Apple's AAC format, used for the immensely popular iPod digital music players, marks a particular about-face.

Sony said the coming version of its music management software Sonic Stage will be compatible with AAC.

The company will provide the software, called Sonic Stage CP, free of charge through the Internet from May 25. The software is compatible with hard-disk types of Walkman A series products.

Sony's latest strategy is taken as an open acknowledgement that it can no longer ignore iPod's lead.

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