updated 04:55 pm EDT, Wed October 17, 2007
Sony and KDDI Music Deal
Japanese cellular carrier KDDI and Sony this week announced a plan they hope will bolster their influence in the digital music industry, particularly against Apple. Beginning in December, owners of Sony's software and Walkman music players can freely transfer the music to many of the phones on KDDI's Au service, regardless of whether the devices are made by Sony-Ericsson. Subscribers will hopefully be encouraged to buy from KDDI's Chaku Uta Full online music store knowing they can easily play their purchases when their cellphones are offline, according to the companies.
While the maneuver is part of Sony's new commitment to an open platform that began with the company's new Walkman players, which dropped the Sony-only ATRAC format, no mention was made of whether the development would change the format of tracks sold through KDDI's service or would involve tighter integration than software compatibility updates.
Sony did not explain the decision itself but may have taken the step in part as a defensive measure against the iPhone, which is expected to reach Asia in 2008. The Japanese electronics maker's Walkman players suffered after the release of the iPod in Japan, ceding a large amount of its marketshare to the Apple device. Sony continues to maintain a significant influence on digital music in the country and typically outpaces sales of devices from fellow competitors such as JVC and Kenwood.