CeBIT: Sony’s European Music Launch

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.

US Service “Coming Soon”

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?