Sony to Launch Online Music Service

Discussion in 'MacRumors News Discussion (archive)' started by MacRumors, Jan 8, 2004.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001
    Sony announced that they would be launching their own online music service later this year.

    The 500,000 song service known as "Connect" will be priced similarly to the competition at $1/song. The new service, however, will initially be limited to work with only Sony devices and the songs will come in Sony's proprietary ATRAC3 compression format.

    In related news, Sony also announced a high-capacity version of its Mini-Disc (MD) which brings the Mini-Disc capacity to 45 hours.

    While the number of online music stores continue to grow, Apple's appears to be the most successful. Apple announced on Tuesday that the iTunes Music store currently has 70% marketshare of the legal music download services according to the latest numbers from SoundScan. Apple also announced that they had sold over 30 million songs from the iTunes Music Store.
  2. MacsRgr8 macrumors 604


    Sep 8, 2002
    The Netherlands
    Won't every label company launch one, eventually?
  3. sw1tcher macrumors 65816


    Jan 6, 2004
    Does anyone know if this ATRAC3 format works with any MP3 players out there aside from what Sony has/are planning to release?

    As far as i'm aware, nothing supports this. Am I Right?

    Anyway, I'm kinda interested in seeing what kind of MP3 player Sony will release to also compete with the iPod and mini. They tend to release some pretty slick hardware, especially in Japan.
  4. hokka macrumors regular

    Apr 3, 2003
    Someone need to get the file format standarized NOW before it's too late, we have what? 4 different incompatable formats now? AAC w/ FairPlay; AAC w/Helix; WMA and now ATRAC

    It makes sense to the Sony MD & NET crowd only at the moment, as they do have a huge install base - though this new HiMD (1GB @ $7) will mean all the older equipment would be outdated and it's gonna be a pain-in-the-butt to record or transfer from the computer

    Not to mention when the PSP comes out with another disk format
  5. LaughingMan macrumors newbie

    Jan 6, 2004

    Maybe this service will be decent in a market like Japan where the minidisc player still has some clout, but in the United States, where the MD has gotten murdered by MP3 players, most significantly the iPod, such a service will tank quickly...

    Apple can do what they do with AAC, closing off the format to other MP3 players and not putting in WMA support on the iPod because the iPod is absolutely dominant right now. The closed Fairplay DRM is fine because the iPod is the most popular music player... people don't mind that you can't put it on other players... people buy iPods, so they use the iTunes Music store... conversely, people buy songs on the iTunes store, so they go out and buy an iPod to play those songs on.

    The almost universal appeal of the iPod gives Apple the edge on the WMA vs. AAC format war.

    What about Sony? They're releasing a store based on their completely proprietary ATRAC format with their own DRM... the only problem is that they do not have a product like the iPod with such universal appeal and established base...

    Every other music store has joined the WMA front because at least that format will be a sure runner up to AAC... ATRAC however, and Sony, will come in a distant 3rd, if all they're going to be resting on are their MD players and their ATRAC-only flash based music players....
  6. hokka macrumors regular

    Apr 3, 2003
    Here you go:

    yawn.. very Sony and nothing special after you've seen 10+ years of MD players (different ****e, same smell)
  7. LaughingMan macrumors newbie

    Jan 6, 2004
    A number of other electronics makers make ATRAC-based MD players other than Sony, but it is important to point out that Sony's "MP3 players" do not play mp3s at all...

    Their flash based players play ONLY ATRAC. Also, its not compatible with Mac. It comes with transcoding software for PC that takes MP3, or WAV, or what have you in terms of music files, and change that over to ATRAC (another lossy format, so there is a quality loss) and then transfer it over to the player...

    you can't just pop an mp3 file onto the player and expect it to play...

    However, Sony's MP3CD players do play true MP3 CDs... they also support ATRAC files on CD also.
  8. desdomg macrumors member

    Dec 12, 2003
    Re: ATRAC

    Actually, Sony are able to benefit from an global installed base of MD players that is much larger than the iPod market. From Hi-Fi components to in-car stereos there is a massive selection of MD players on the market. They are a lot cheaper than iPod too. The only advantages to the iPod for me are that the fairplay DRM is more liberal and the iPod looks cooler, holds more songs and doubles as an extra FW drive.

    But for an already massive installed base of MD players round the world, for which these new 1 gig disks will be backwards compatible - the emergence of the Sony store will be a force to be reckoned with and serious competition for Apple. Perhaps for the first time.

    It was Sony's inactivity that allowed Apple into the market in the first place. Now they seem to be waking up, Apple watch out!
  9. desdomg macrumors member

    Dec 12, 2003
    Actually, the sony software converts MP3's and any other format you throw at it on the fly into ATRAC - which plays on the MD's. Sound quality of MD is a lot better than iPod.
  10. hokka macrumors regular

    Apr 3, 2003
    Re: Re: ATRAC

    I kinda disagrees with you about the Sony Store (Connect) and MD... you see, iPod was designed for/with the internet/computer crowd in mind, where as MD was designed to replace Cassette Tape, the number of people who can actually use the store will be a LOT less than the 70Million of total MD Player sold since what? 1992? Only a small fraction of the MD Players out there can get ATRAC tracks from a computer - the NET version of MD is only a couple of years old and have not been selling well (wonder why).

    All my friends who has MD don't even own computers, they just record via the optical cable at x1... it's a pain.

    I wonder if people are gonna get a new computer just so they can use a MD player - I think not!

    And MD are not that cheap! the top-of-the-line is priced same as a 40Gig iPod! with no added function (than cheaper recording models) but usually smaller (with the typical Sony marketing: smallest MD in the world, or the longest playing MD in the world crap) and nicer looking...
  11. BwanaZulia macrumors regular

    Jun 8, 2002
    As a former MD person (owned three players and a boom box since 1995) I can only say that Sony does not know when to quit.

    The MD is long dead. I don't care how many players (crappy) or space alien commercials, the MD as a format is just way too late.

    To be fair, it was the best format years ago before MP3 hit the scenes. It was tiny and a great tape replacement. If Sony has not messed around keeping the format to themselves for the first couple of years it could have really taken off.

    Now of course, the iPod runs wild. People want 5, 10, 15, 20, 40, 60 GB of space and not just for Music. Don't expect Apple to sit around waiting for everyone to figure out that the iPod can do more than just music.

    Sony... remember Beta? :)

  12. LaughingMan macrumors newbie

    Jan 6, 2004
    Read my post. I said that Sony includes software for Windows that transcodes mp3 to atrac...

    I highly doubt that MD has better sound than the iPod, especially if you have an existing collection of MP3s. To get those songs onto an MD player, the sony software applies another lossy compression (ATRAC) onto the audio... while the iPod just plays the mp3s as they are...

    Plus, if you have the original music CDs in question, you can even rip to AIFF or WAV, two formats that do not add any compression to the signal from the CD, and then just put those lossless files onto the iPod...

    The MD *requires* that you put on some lossy compression as even the SP ATRAC codec is about 132 kbits/sec.

    iPod, on the other hand, allows for lossless via WAV and AIFF.

    Don't believe me?
  13. csimmons macrumors 6502

    Nov 19, 2002
    Stuttgart, Germany
    Forgetting one important thing...

    ...Sony has something Apple doesn't: Sony Music, with a HUGE back catalog of music, possibly including songs (or other content) you can't get on any of the other services, including iTMS.

    I'm not saying it will take off; in fact, I think it will die a horrible death:D , but it's something to consider. If they supported AAC, or even WMA, they'd have a better chance.
  14. Vroem macrumors member


    Nov 9, 2002
    Brussels, Belgium, Europe
    Re: Re: ATRAC

    What benefit is there with a car, hifi or portable system that you CAN'T connect to a computer?

    The disks will NOT be compatible with old players, that's technically impossible!

    It's true that Sony contributed to many analog and digital formats that have become de-facto standards. But with MD they have made the wrong choice, it will never become a standard because they don't let other companies to benefit from it. (The same story about Memory Stick)
  15. Lancetx macrumors 68000


    Aug 11, 2003
    Re: ATRAC

    Yeah, everything I've read so far indicates that the new discs will not be backwards compatible at all with current MD players. If this is indeed true, then this won't go too far at all I don't think.
  16. desdomg macrumors member

    Dec 12, 2003
  17. jocknerd macrumors regular

    Apr 23, 2002
    Its simple. Demand Ogg Vorbis. Its the only open-source, patent-free, licensing-free format out there. You could always wrap a DRM around it if you wanted. Plus it sounds better than any of the other lossy formats out there.
  18. jocknerd macrumors regular

    Apr 23, 2002
    Re: Re: Re: ATRAC

    Sony has a history of this. Remember Betamax?
  19. whiskeybravo macrumors member

    Jul 25, 2002
    You better think about what you are saying. How is it possible to ADD quality to an MP3 or WMA file? Does Sony's compression algorithm fill back in all the information that was tossed out then toss it out again, only better? I seriously doubt it. Now, if you MEANT to say that MD players ship with higher quality headphones and therefore the music sounds better, you may have a point.:rolleyes:
  20. vikingstad macrumors newbie

    Jan 8, 2004
    This is probably very good for Apple...

    I was thinking, maybe all this competition will be good for Apple in the long run? All these players, promising the latest and greatest will probably confuse consumers a lot.

    iTMS has a large market share, and people tend to select the market leader, just out of plain confidence. Just look at Microsoft and Windows. People select it primarily because it has the largest market share. Some people don't even know there is anything else on the market!

    So Apple could really pull this off. As long as "downloading legal music on the net" equals iTunes (or the iPod) in the consumer heads that's all that counts. If iTunes can maintain this market share (above the 50% level) during 2004, I think no competition can beat it in the long run. AAC will by then be too dominant. No one wants to risk that the music they buy today will not be playable on the computers or iPods of tomorrow.

    I think Apple has a winner on its hands here. A real one!
  21. Tulse macrumors regular

    Nov 3, 2003
    I thought this was MacRumors, and not Slashdot. :)

    Seriously, the average consumer can't name the format used by their digital music player, much less care about issues of open source. And what would the point be for Apple to use an open source implementation for a system that it wants to keep proprietary?

    I do agree, though, that the multiple formats are good for Apple, just as Linux's rise is good for Apple. In both cases, the rise of viable options to Microsoft products provides an opportunity for Apple. If AAC had to compete only against WMA, that might be a fight Apple can't win. But if Sony and Real also propose non-WMA formats, iTMS doesn't seem to unusual.
  22. ipiloot macrumors member

    Oct 22, 2001
    Aside from the fact that there's no software that makes a good file (whatever format) out of the bad mp3, i doubt the fact that ATRAC sounds better than AAC.

    Afaik ATRAC was developed together with Dolby. AAC is also made by Dolby and includes many similar solutions to ATRAC.
  23. scem0 macrumors 604


    Jul 16, 2002
    back in NYC!
    That sounds like a horrible service.

    But who knows until it comes out?

  24. pcharles macrumors regular

    Feb 5, 2003
    Michigan's Upper Peninsula
    This is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. If there is "No money" in online music, why is every dog and pony getting into online music? What I really do not understand is how, all of a sudden, record companies are allowing everyone to sell online music when prior to iTMS there was virtually nothing.

    It would not be so bad is there was a little compatibility, but to build an entire music store around and obsolete piece of technology is insane. I only know one person with a Minidisc player and she is upgrading to an iPod this year. So, they are releasing a 45 hour disc to replace their current 8 hour discs? That is still less than an iPod and a LOT more trouble.

    I love Sony products, especially their TV's, and I suppose for those who are 100% sony, this is a good thing. However, it is not good for the industry as a whole to be so fragmented.
  25. noverflow macrumors regular

    Jul 4, 2002
    yes I do. And as a broadcast professional, i can tell you that Beta SP is still the number one tape format used by television broadcasters. If you make a commercial, the cable reps or local stations are going to ask for it in beta SP.

    a MD is only 160MB, for a 4min song that comes in at less than 256k!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    im sorry but that is awesome

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