updated 02:00 pm EDT, Thu September 2, 2010
Walkman takes iPod's lead for 2nd time in a year
Sony's Walkman line has temporarily passed the iPod for sales in Japan once more, researchers at BCN claimed today. Basic players like the S640 helped Sony creep past in August with 47.8 of sales where Apple dropped to 44 percent. While the Walkman overtook the iPod briefly a year ago, the new figures mark the first time Sony managed to hold an overall lead for the month.
The iPod nano 8GB and 16GB were still the top sellers, but the sheer variety of Sony players ultimately overwhelmed their numbers.
Much of the swap was pinned on Apple's upgrade cycle. As it regularly updates iPods in September, many were likely holding off for the new iPod lineup where Sony was still in mid-cycle and relatively safe. Last year, the iPod refresh erased many of Sony's gains.
Sony has narrowed the gap with Apple over the past three years, but BCN noted that almost all of the share came from other Japanese rivals. Apple's share has remained steady where companies like JVC and Kenwood have become largely irrelevant for both. Many of these have often focused on basic players with only a small amount of storage.
Apple's role in Japan isn't as strong in the US but has been a routine source of symbolic embarrassment for Sony. It once dominated its home country but let the iPod take control as it first refused to give up the MiniDisc and in many cases forced listeners to use its ATRAC file format, even when they were trying to load unprotected MP3 tracks. Sony reversed course and now often uses universal support as a selling point.