updated 03:35 pm EDT, Thu August 30, 2007
Sony Kills Connect Store
Sony's Connect music store will officially shut down by spring next year, the company revealed today as part of its announcements of the A810 and S610 Walkman players. The electronics giant argued in its phase out FAQ that its was moving to an open platform where protected Windows Media would be the format of choice for copyrighted content, eliminating the need for the Sony-only ATRAC format which has been used for both the Connect store and many of Sony's older Walkman players. Sales of eBooks would not be affected, Sony said, confirming earlier reports and reassuring owners of the company's Reader handheld.
Service through the store would remain intact until "at least" March 2008, the company said. However, users were warned that the shutdown of regular music sales would be absolute and would prevent buyers from downloading songs again if lost after the closure. Customers of the store were asked to either burn audio CD copies of protected files from Connect or to use a newly introduced MP3 tool that will transcode unprotected ATRAC to a format guaranteed to work on Sony's newest players, some of which have dropped ATRAC support altogether.
The announcement signals the end of a significant chapter in Sony's competition with rivals in the digital music business. The company established the store in May 2004 with the intent of heading off a similar effort by Apple, controlling both the music download service and the players it would use. The store failed to gain a significant foothold in most markets and ultimately lost to iTunes in Sony's home territory of Japan. Much of the failure has been attributed to the firm's insistence on the ATRAC format and a lack of players that would compel users to accept being locked into the proprietary music format.