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Remember Sony, Inventor of the Walkman?

Over 26 years ago, Sony launched the Walkman portable music player and revolutionized the way people listen to music. The company had enormous success with its original Walkman cassette players and follow-up CD players, selling some 130 million units. But somewhere along the way, Sony fell asleep and let the digital revolution pass it by. Apple Computer eventually launched its iPod and has since dominated the MP3 music player market, leaving Sony in the dust. Sure, if you walk through any city in America today, or jog through any gym, you're still more likely to see a Walkman than an iPod, but Sony has lost its edge. The company's failure to compete with the iPod can be blamed on its reluctance to give up the use of its MiniDisc technology and its insistence on requiring users to use its proprietary Adaptive Transform Acoustic Coding (ATRAC) music format. But suddenly, it looks like the company might actually be back in the game. Last week, Sony announced a new line of Flash RAM-based Network Walkman digital music players that feature up to 70 hours of battery life and a stunning display. The company will sell nine extremely small, very cool, and attractive models that feature storage ranging from 256MB to 1GB. The players, unlike most previous Sony Network Walkman, support MP3, WMA, and WAV playback, in addition to Sony's ATRAC3 format. The new players will ship worldwide in April and should help Sony get back into the still rapidly growing MP3-player market. You know, just in time to watch it go belly up as people move to smart phones

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