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Thursday, October 12, 2006
Sony Unveils New Walkman, Touts Video Plans

Sony said on Thursday it will start rolling out five new models of a flash-memory-based Walkman, adding that it is developing a video-capable Walkman.

Sony created the market for portable music players with its epoch-making Walkman more than a quarter of a century ago, but in recent years it has trailed far behind Apple, whose iPod holds more than half the global digital media player market.

"We are developing a product that handles images, but I cannot make any comment on specific plans," Sony Senior Vice President Hiroshi Yoshioka told a news conference that unveiled upcoming Walkman models.

Apple launched a video-enabled iPod last October.

Yoshioka also said on the sidelines of the news conference that he aims to double Walkman's share in the global portable digital music player market from the current 10 percent, without elaborating.

Sony and any other portable music player makers are expected to face a new and potentially formidable rival next month as Microsoft launches its Zune music player, further stoking competition.

New Walkmans

Sony also said it will start rolling out five new models of a flash-memory-based Walkman, shaped like a perfume bottle, toward the end of the year at home and abroad.

Three new NW-S700F oblong-shaped players, which have in-ear noise reduction earphones to block outside sounds, will go on sale from October 21, followed by two new NW-S600 series models on November 18.

The NW-S700F models will come in four colours with prices starting at 18,000 yen (151 dollars) while the NW-S600 offers a choice of three colours with a price tag of 15,000 yen and upward.

A 4-gigabyte model with a noise-reduction function is expected to sell for around 29,000 yen ($240) in Japan, Sony said. The new Walkmans will allow users to listen to about three hours of music on a three minute charge, and up to 50 hours on a two hour charge.

Sony announced in January that the Walkman would no longer be made in Japan, shifting production to China and Malaysia.

Sony also announced the three new additions to its NetJuke range which allows users to download music to a hi-fi system and save it on a hard drive.

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