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When Apple’s iPod began to take off in a big way, it left the rest of the market standing. Sony and most other ‘serious’ audio electronics manufacturers were either over-sceptical about computer-based music formats or were too conservative in their approach to catch the first bandwagon as it rolled on by.
The result is that hundreds of thousands of iPods have now been sold worldwide and a music-consuming public who have yet to be convinced that any other player even comes close. Personally, I wouldn’t be seen dead wearing those white iPod phones (I have a deeply irrationally phobia of following the crowd), but I have to admire Apple for sticking to its design principles and its dedication to ease of use.
It hasn’t helped either that Sony, Apple’s biggest rival, has in the last few months had to cope with a barrage of criticism following revelations that it had installed unauthorised (and potentially hazardous) copy protection software on hundreds of thousands of its customers’ PCs, via music CDs.
The company is badly in need of a good news story to boost its battered image and it is desperately hoping that the new Walkman can provide it.
On the face of it, things look extremely promising. Sony sent over its smaller capacity 6GB hard disk player the NW-A1000 for us to paw and play with for a few days and we were immediately bowled over by its looks. It looked great in the press photos and on the web but we can report that it looks even better in the metal. As luck would have it, Sony had the good sense to ship it in its slick black, white and silver colour scheme and not the rather lurid metallic purple, pink and blue alternatives.