Sony have announced at CeBIT that they’re launching a new music service in Europe in June. The initial countries on the list will be UK, Germany and France. The service will comprise of some 300,000 tracks form Sony’s catalogue, and they will be available for the usual €0.99 per track.
Now for the bad news. The tracks won’t be MP3s, they won’t be AAC and they won’t be Windows Media Format. They’ll be ATRAC3 (Adaptive TRansform Acoustic Coding 3) – and customers will have to use Sony’s Sonic Stage 2.0 software.
We’ve used Sonic Stage in the past, and it’s a bit of a pig: getting tracks onto devices is relatively simple, but getting them off again can be a nightmare – we hope that some changes will be made to the platform to make the whole process considerably less painful.
This is also a bold move for Sony – by providing Sonic Stage as the engine and selling ATRAC3 music, the service will only work with Sony devices, considerably narrowing their market reach at the expense of copy protection. With Napster and iTunes launching in Europe later this year, it won’t take long to see if this was a good decision or not. We’ll keep you posted.