Sony Supports MP3 With New Flash Based Walkmans

Sony launched two new flash-based music players that support the MP3 format for the first time, the first time for Sony, that is, which has heretofore relied solely on its own proprietary ATRAC3 format. Customers of the companyis earlier Network Walkman products had to convert MP3 files to ATRAC3 through an include software transcoder.

This marks a significant shift in Sonyis strategy in this booming market, which is playing catch up to Appleis market-dominating iPod series.

That dominance, however is in the hard-drive music player market, and Sonyis two new players are flash-based products, a segment that Apple has so far not entered. The new products should help Sony better position itself against Apple, as the lack of MP3 support has been cited for the companyis lack of success with its digital Walkman product line so far.

Sonyis new products are a 1 GB unit, called the NW-E99, and a 512 MB unit called the NW-E95. The devices are priced at US$200 and $300, respectively, and both are expected to ship in November.

The Sony NW-E95 512 MB MP3/ATRAC3 player.

Sony has not yet added information on the new units to its Web site.