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Walkman temporarily outsells iPod in Japan

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.

For charts: Apple in red, Sony in blue, all others in green

by MacNN Staff





  1. dliup

    Joined: Dec 1969


    let me guess

    Buy 1 get 1 free?

  1. wrenchy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    If anyone cares about

    sound quality, go Sony. If you want the latest fad on the streets, go Pod.

  1. Makosuke

    Joined: Dec 1969



    If I'm remembering correctly from some of the Japanese news stories on this from a couple of days ago, another factor is that the Apple total (of course) doesn't include iPhones, which are quite popular (embarrassingly so, in fact--it's the top smartphone in the country by far, and Japan is about as cell-obsessed as any country in the world). I don't remember raw numbers, though, and the graphs above are in percentages so not sure exactly how big of an effect.

    Aside: I have no idea how good or bad the respective sound quality of Apple and Walkman hardware is, but calling iPods "the latest fad" is just silly. 50%+ marketshare in nearly every country in the world for several years straight is not a "fad" by any definition--it's a stable market leader that everybody uses.

    That's like calling Windows "The latest fad" in desktop operating systems, or HP's laptop lineup "the latest fad" in laptops. iPods are the boring, safe, default choice when it comes to portable music.

  1. dimmer

    Joined: Dec 1969



    What's a "Walkman"?

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  1. anzenjoe

    Joined: Dec 1969



    You give credit for the table "Portable audio sales by the second week....." to your own MacNN staff.

    This is incorrect. The table comes from BCN Rankings and you merely translated it.

    Also, the title should be "sales 'for' the second week" (not 'by').

    And the "Playback" heading should be "Video Playback" (otherwise it makes no sense; or is the NW-042 unable to play music?)

    Great information, please just clean it up.

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