updated 07:20 pm EDT, Sun June 17, 2007
Sony Shuttering Connect
Sony is about to close its Connect online music store, according to reports of a recent company meeting. The electronics giant is allegedly set to discontinue all but the eBooks section and will shift the 20 staffers dedicated to the store to the company's PlayStation branch, where paid online content is more successful. Connect division head Steve Banfield will leave his position in as little as a few weeks, the report says. No confirmation was given for whether or not Sony's own SonicStage software, which is used as the front-end for accessing Connect, will be changed or removed altogether.
The Connect store has struggled largely since its creation to gain acceptance, having ceded marketshare to Apple's iTunes and smaller rivals such as eMusic and Napster in part due to Sony's insistence on using its custom protected ATRAC music format. The reported closure would nevertheless mark a significant turnaround from strategy as recent as late 2006, when news sources claimed Sony would launch a movie store that would have offered Sony titles ahead of Apple as well as allowed direct transfers of movies to Walkman players to save computer hard disk space.
Sony has yet to comment on the shutdown claim.