Thursday, August 30, 2007

ATRACs of my tears

Sony — the Japanese master of proprietary system integration — today announced that it’s surrendered in an important front of the consumer electronics standards wars:

Acknowledging its proprietary audio technology was a marketplace flop, Sony Corp. is shuttering its Connect digital music store and will open its portable media players to other formats.
With the death of the download store goes Sony’s ATRAC proprietary DRM format — although the AP story implies ATRAC may survive in the domestic market. American and European music players will instead support MP3, AAC (the format used by unprotected iTunes files), and of course Windows Media Audio.

As the AP story continued:
Sony Connect launched in 2004, but like other online music services, it has had a tough time competing against Apple Inc.'s iTunes Store, which is tied to the market-leading iPod portable player.
I’m not sure what galls the Sony execs more — losing to Apple (which it could have bought for a song in the 1990s) or having to license Microsoft’s Windows Media to have a viable product. Both must be creating a few tears around the Sony building in Tokyo’s Minato ward.

Yes, I know the title refers to a Motown or Warner/Elektra/Asylum title. No metaphor is perfect.

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