May 10, 2006 2:30 PM PDT

Sony opts for open audio format

Sony is moving to make its music management software compatible with Apple Computer's audio file format in the latest evidence of Apple's dominance in digital music.

The behemoth Japanese conglomerate, which once controlled the portable music market, announced Tuesday that the company's data compression technology would be compatible with a number of rival formats, including Apple's format of choice, AAC.

In the past, Sony has fiercely held to its own Atrac system. By switching to a technology that supports AAC, Sony appears to be acknowledging Apple's dominance in the digital music playing market, say analysts.

Sony's new management system will allow iPod users to swap some of their music to a Sony Walkman, but only songs they ripped from CDs.

Music downloaded from Apple's iTunes music store is prevented from playing on non-Apple devices by Apple's digital rights management technology.

"That's a big change for Sony," said Shaw Wu, an analyst with American Technology Research. "But it's not surprising. Competitors keep trying to stop Apple, but the company's market share just continues to grow."

Calls to Sony were not returned Wednesday.

See more CNET content tagged:
dominance, digital music, Apple Computer, Sony Corp., AAC

72 comments

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AAC != Apple
So they're supporting AAC, that isn't "Apple Compatibility". Sure, AAC is the primary format Apple uses, but it isn't Apple's format - it is Advanced Audio Coding, specifically MPEG-4 AAC. Apple didn't develop the format and they're not the only one to support it.

True "Apple Compatibility" would be if they managed to support Apple's FairPlay DRM to support playback of iTunes purchased music. That's what I expected given the headline on the story. Either via a license, or reverse engineering like Real's Rhapsody service.

Calling AAC support Apple compatibility is misleading. By that measure, Windows Media Player has Apple Compatibility too. There's a plugin for TiVo Desktop that plays AAC files via the TiVo - that would count too. Neither handles FairPlay though.
Posted by megazone (138 comments )
Reply Link Flag
There is NOTHING FAIR ABOUT FairPlay
eom
Posted by Oleg Simkin (53 comments )
Link Flag
AAC != Apple
So they're supporting AAC, that isn't "Apple Compatibility". Sure, AAC is the primary format Apple uses, but it isn't Apple's format - it is Advanced Audio Coding, specifically MPEG-4 AAC. Apple didn't develop the format and they're not the only one to support it.

True "Apple Compatibility" would be if they managed to support Apple's FairPlay DRM to support playback of iTunes purchased music. That's what I expected given the headline on the story. Either via a license, or reverse engineering like Real's Rhapsody service.

Calling AAC support Apple compatibility is misleading. By that measure, Windows Media Player has Apple Compatibility too. There's a plugin for TiVo Desktop that plays AAC files via the TiVo - that would count too. Neither handles FairPlay though.
Posted by megazone (138 comments )
Reply Link Flag
There is NOTHING FAIR ABOUT FairPlay
eom
Posted by Oleg Simkin (53 comments )
Link Flag
Nobody is bowing to anyone
Apple will not allow Sony to use FairPlay DRM employed by the
iTunes music store. Therefore, you cannot play songs bought from
the iTMS on a "Bean".

This is the worst article by far from c|net as far as research of facts
is concerned.

Sony was one of the co-developers of the AAC file format. This
article is so wrong, I am not sure what else to add... Unbelievable.
Posted by zarathustra911 (35 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Nobody is bowing to anyone
Apple will not allow Sony to use FairPlay DRM employed by the
iTunes music store. Therefore, you cannot play songs bought from
the iTMS on a "Bean".

This is the worst article by far from c|net as far as research of facts
is concerned.

Sony was one of the co-developers of the AAC file format. This
article is so wrong, I am not sure what else to add... Unbelievable.
Posted by zarathustra911 (35 comments )
Reply Link Flag
News.com needs to hire reporters who actually know something about tech.
AAC existed before the iTunes Music Store. Many non-Apple players use it. Many iPod/iTunes users rip their CDs into good ol' MP3.

Note that Sony said nothing of this "Apple compatibility." That angle exists in the minds of the analyst (and analysts != people who know about tech) and the News.com reporter. It's just another universal format.
Posted by M C (598 comments )
Reply Link Flag
News.com needs to hire reporters who actually know something about tech.
AAC existed before the iTunes Music Store. Many non-Apple players use it. Many iPod/iTunes users rip their CDs into good ol' MP3.

Note that Sony said nothing of this "Apple compatibility." That angle exists in the minds of the analyst (and analysts != people who know about tech) and the News.com reporter. It's just another universal format.
Posted by M C (598 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Stripping out the misinformation..
Stripping out the misinformation in this article leaves us with...
"Calls to Sony were not returned Wednesday."
.. and even that seems to have some grammer issues.
Posted by Riquez-001 (171 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Totally off-topic...
I doubt Riquez is qualified to judge the reporters use of grammar, judging by the fact that he cant even *spell* grammar. Which, by the way, is spelled with two "a"'s, not one a and an e.
So much for the U.S. public school education.
Posted by Vurk (147 comments )
Link Flag
Stripping out the misinformation..
Stripping out the misinformation in this article leaves us with...
"Calls to Sony were not returned Wednesday."
.. and even that seems to have some grammer issues.
Posted by Riquez-001 (171 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Totally off-topic...
I doubt Riquez is qualified to judge the reporters use of grammar, judging by the fact that he cant even *spell* grammar. Which, by the way, is spelled with two "a"'s, not one a and an e.
So much for the U.S. public school education.
Posted by Vurk (147 comments )
Link Flag
"apple" compatibilty???
I agree with what everyone has posted about this article being just plain wrong. I registered just to add my 2c. I'm getting sick and tired of reading blatantly wrong and misleading articles on news.com. They need to get some real writers/researchers on staff.

Like everyone has said, AAC was created by Sony and several other companies who were also involved in MP3, like Fruenhoffer(sp). Apple merely licensed AAC from Advanced Audio Coding so they could add their proprietary DRM. Sony is just doing what Apple did. I don't see News.com commenting on the fact that other electronics companies like Kenwood, who also support AAC, as bowing to Apple.

AAC will eventually replace MP3 because it's more efficient at lower bitrates. Apple has definitely helped it become popular, though, with the iTMS/ Ok...rant switch, off.
Posted by Soul Manager (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
"apple" compatibilty???
I agree with what everyone has posted about this article being just plain wrong. I registered just to add my 2c. I'm getting sick and tired of reading blatantly wrong and misleading articles on news.com. They need to get some real writers/researchers on staff.

Like everyone has said, AAC was created by Sony and several other companies who were also involved in MP3, like Fruenhoffer(sp). Apple merely licensed AAC from Advanced Audio Coding so they could add their proprietary DRM. Sony is just doing what Apple did. I don't see News.com commenting on the fact that other electronics companies like Kenwood, who also support AAC, as bowing to Apple.

AAC will eventually replace MP3 because it's more efficient at lower bitrates. Apple has definitely helped it become popular, though, with the iTMS/ Ok...rant switch, off.
Posted by Soul Manager (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I fail to see any point in this
"Music downloaded from Apple's iTunes music store is prevented from playing on non-Apple devices by Apple's digital rights management technology"

is the crux of the issue here.

No one cares if you can play Apple's music format or not, what they care about is whether the music or movies they download from the company that monopolises this content can be played on the device they've chosen.

This is why Apple are not, and never have been, any more morally correct than Microsoft or any other demonised corporate.

Microsoft are demonised because through deceptive practices they've gained a monopolising market share for their OS and web browser.

Having gained the necessary market share, they used this position to either price their competitors into bankruptcy, use proprietory formats and code to make competitive software either incompatible with their own market leading products or just consumed their competitors whole.

Apple, having gained a monopolising market share through a great product, extremely clever marketing campaigns went on to marginalise their competitors by first securing the exclusive rights to 90% of the content worth having, then via proprietory drm make sure no one else could hope to offer a competing product.

Sure they at least offer a decent product, but I would argue that their treatment of their own customers is no less shoddy than that of Microsoft's treatment of Windows users.

Obviously they've learnt a trick or two from the recording industry they've managed to align themselves with, such filing lawsuits against their own customers for having the gall to give out information Apple don't want released. Not intellectual property, but news about interllectual property.

They charge full operating system prices for operating system upgrades.

They sell hugely overpriced mp3 players with batteries that don't last 3 years, then charge them a price to replace those batteries that would be better suited for the mp3 player itself.

If they find any business trying to make a buck selling say a competing battery or allow a competing mp3 player to play content bought from iTunes, they sue that company into submission.

Their tactics are worthy of nothing but contempt, and this hero worshipping of a guy that invented a two colour computer with a non-multitasking OS is laughable.

Microsoft may have stolen their ideas from Apple, but Apple subsumed theirs from Commodore and Atari, only to produce an inferior product.

Commodore produced the only true multitasking computer with above 8-bit colour graphics, stereo sound and multimedia capable devices. They invented Desktop Video, 2D and 3D animation capable home computers and their developers invented the products that made most of the special effects corporates who they are today.

Atari produced the best music producing system on the market, the only home computer that was midi-compatible out of the box, and their developers produced the software that led to almost every innovation used by composers and independant musicians today.

So while people seem to view Apple as this independant, innovative producer of media capable computers, the reality is they were outclassed and outdone until slick marketing and technically illiterate media campaigns drove Commodore and Atari to the wall.
Posted by ajbright (447 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Amiga?
by "Commodore produced the only true multitasking computer..." are you refering to the Amiga? That's a true multitsking machine with three on-board CPU running side by side.
Posted by eddierabbit (7 comments )
Link Flag
omg you are so bitter
get a life
Posted by df561 (94 comments )
Link Flag
Big difference
There is no comparison between Microsoft and Apple as far as ethics go. I am no Apple fan, but people need to understand where the line is.

A monopoly is fine as long as they don't interfere between their competitors and their customers. That's where MS likes to play loose and why they have been hit with billions in lawsuits...which their customers get to pay for.

As far as the DRM issue, there would be no iTunes or iPod if Apple didn't put it in there. Blame the unethical music labels for that one.

There are plenty of options out there for music players, just none with the iPod's popularity. There is also plenty of music to play on them. If people hate DRM, (as I do) they should stick to MP3 format from ripping CDs or from Indy music sites.

BTW, I agree the Amiga was a great computer for
it's time. I owned several of them. Too bad Commodore was so incompetent at selling them.
Posted by freemarket--2008 (5058 comments )
Link Flag
This guy speaks the truth.
It's rare to see such truth here. I'm another Amiga fan from back in the day.

I'm also not deluded into thinking Apple is warm and cuddly, while only Microsoft plays dirty. Capitalism affects all for-profit corporations the same way - some companies are just better at it than others.

The greedy bast*rds than ran Commodore just retired to the Bahamas and let a great system become obsolete.
Posted by just_some_guy (231 comments )
Link Flag
Apple, MS, Commodore, Atari
Your comments comparing Apple and Microsoft are completely
off base. The fact that 90% of the market prefers your product
does NOT make you a monopoly. No one is forcing people to
buy iPods. You are in error when you claim that Apple has
"exclusive rights to 90% of the content worth having." Almost
everything available through iTunes is available elsewhere, either
as WMA-based media or through subscription services.
And while I agree, as an OSX user, that Apple has terrible
upgrade policies, there is a reason that Apple has never been
charged with monopolistic practices.
The Amiga was also NOT the first multitasking computer. OS-9
was a micro computer-based multitaskiing OS before the Amiga
512 came out. Certainly mainframes and minis, with hardware
superior to what you mentioned, predate it too. And while I was
a proud Atari ST user, neither commodore nor Atari were "driven
to the wall" by the media. Both companies were brought down,
first by the incompetence of the Tramiel family, and later by
becoming too complacent after being bought by larger
companies that had no commitment to their user base.
Posted by DeusExMachina (516 comments )
Link Flag
I fail to see any point in this
"Music downloaded from Apple's iTunes music store is prevented from playing on non-Apple devices by Apple's digital rights management technology"

is the crux of the issue here.

No one cares if you can play Apple's music format or not, what they care about is whether the music or movies they download from the company that monopolises this content can be played on the device they've chosen.

This is why Apple are not, and never have been, any more morally correct than Microsoft or any other demonised corporate.

Microsoft are demonised because through deceptive practices they've gained a monopolising market share for their OS and web browser.

Having gained the necessary market share, they used this position to either price their competitors into bankruptcy, use proprietory formats and code to make competitive software either incompatible with their own market leading products or just consumed their competitors whole.

Apple, having gained a monopolising market share through a great product, extremely clever marketing campaigns went on to marginalise their competitors by first securing the exclusive rights to 90% of the content worth having, then via proprietory drm make sure no one else could hope to offer a competing product.

Sure they at least offer a decent product, but I would argue that their treatment of their own customers is no less shoddy than that of Microsoft's treatment of Windows users.

Obviously they've learnt a trick or two from the recording industry they've managed to align themselves with, such filing lawsuits against their own customers for having the gall to give out information Apple don't want released. Not intellectual property, but news about interllectual property.

They charge full operating system prices for operating system upgrades.

They sell hugely overpriced mp3 players with batteries that don't last 3 years, then charge them a price to replace those batteries that would be better suited for the mp3 player itself.

If they find any business trying to make a buck selling say a competing battery or allow a competing mp3 player to play content bought from iTunes, they sue that company into submission.

Their tactics are worthy of nothing but contempt, and this hero worshipping of a guy that invented a two colour computer with a non-multitasking OS is laughable.

Microsoft may have stolen their ideas from Apple, but Apple subsumed theirs from Commodore and Atari, only to produce an inferior product.

Commodore produced the only true multitasking computer with above 8-bit colour graphics, stereo sound and multimedia capable devices. They invented Desktop Video, 2D and 3D animation capable home computers and their developers invented the products that made most of the special effects corporates who they are today.

Atari produced the best music producing system on the market, the only home computer that was midi-compatible out of the box, and their developers produced the software that led to almost every innovation used by composers and independant musicians today.

So while people seem to view Apple as this independant, innovative producer of media capable computers, the reality is they were outclassed and outdone until slick marketing and technically illiterate media campaigns drove Commodore and Atari to the wall.
Posted by ajbright (447 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Amiga?
by "Commodore produced the only true multitasking computer..." are you refering to the Amiga? That's a true multitsking machine with three on-board CPU running side by side.
Posted by eddierabbit (7 comments )
Link Flag
omg you are so bitter
get a life
Posted by df561 (94 comments )
Link Flag
Big difference
There is no comparison between Microsoft and Apple as far as ethics go. I am no Apple fan, but people need to understand where the line is.

A monopoly is fine as long as they don't interfere between their competitors and their customers. That's where MS likes to play loose and why they have been hit with billions in lawsuits...which their customers get to pay for.

As far as the DRM issue, there would be no iTunes or iPod if Apple didn't put it in there. Blame the unethical music labels for that one.

There are plenty of options out there for music players, just none with the iPod's popularity. There is also plenty of music to play on them. If people hate DRM, (as I do) they should stick to MP3 format from ripping CDs or from Indy music sites.

BTW, I agree the Amiga was a great computer for
it's time. I owned several of them. Too bad Commodore was so incompetent at selling them.
Posted by freemarket--2008 (5058 comments )
Link Flag
This guy speaks the truth.
It's rare to see such truth here. I'm another Amiga fan from back in the day.

I'm also not deluded into thinking Apple is warm and cuddly, while only Microsoft plays dirty. Capitalism affects all for-profit corporations the same way - some companies are just better at it than others.

The greedy bast*rds than ran Commodore just retired to the Bahamas and let a great system become obsolete.
Posted by just_some_guy (231 comments )
Link Flag
Apple, MS, Commodore, Atari
Your comments comparing Apple and Microsoft are completely
off base. The fact that 90% of the market prefers your product
does NOT make you a monopoly. No one is forcing people to
buy iPods. You are in error when you claim that Apple has
"exclusive rights to 90% of the content worth having." Almost
everything available through iTunes is available elsewhere, either
as WMA-based media or through subscription services.
And while I agree, as an OSX user, that Apple has terrible
upgrade policies, there is a reason that Apple has never been
charged with monopolistic practices.
The Amiga was also NOT the first multitasking computer. OS-9
was a micro computer-based multitaskiing OS before the Amiga
512 came out. Certainly mainframes and minis, with hardware
superior to what you mentioned, predate it too. And while I was
a proud Atari ST user, neither commodore nor Atari were "driven
to the wall" by the media. Both companies were brought down,
first by the incompetence of the Tramiel family, and later by
becoming too complacent after being bought by larger
companies that had no commitment to their user base.
Posted by DeusExMachina (516 comments )
Link Flag
Didn't Apple license AAC from Dolby?
I seem to remember that Apple was licensing the AAC technology
from Dolby Labs.

In other words, SONY has returned to using Dolby technology.

It would still seem to be significant though because it means that
SONY are moving away from trying to push their proprietary ATRAC
format, which is probably a good thing.
Posted by balooh (37 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Who is AAC
AAC was developed by the MPEG group that includes Dolby, Fraunhofer (FhG), AT&T, Sony and Nokiacompanies that have also been involved in the development of audio codecs such as MP3 and AC3 (also known as Dolby Digital). The AAC codec in QuickTime builds upon new, state-of-the art signal processing technology from Dolby Laboratories and brings true variable bit rate (VBR) audio encoding to QuickTime.

This is directly from Apples website. <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.apple.com/quicktime/technologies/aac/" target="_newWindow">http://www.apple.com/quicktime/technologies/aac/</a>

Apple's 'innovation' was slapping DRM on it and selling it too you, not the creation of the format. THANKS SONY!
Posted by KsprayDad (375 comments )
Link Flag
Didn't Apple license AAC from Dolby?
I seem to remember that Apple was licensing the AAC technology
from Dolby Labs.

In other words, SONY has returned to using Dolby technology.

It would still seem to be significant though because it means that
SONY are moving away from trying to push their proprietary ATRAC
format, which is probably a good thing.
Posted by balooh (37 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Who is AAC
AAC was developed by the MPEG group that includes Dolby, Fraunhofer (FhG), AT&#38;T, Sony and Nokiacompanies that have also been involved in the development of audio codecs such as MP3 and AC3 (also known as Dolby Digital). The AAC codec in QuickTime builds upon new, state-of-the art signal processing technology from Dolby Laboratories and brings true variable bit rate (VBR) audio encoding to QuickTime.

This is directly from Apples website. <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.apple.com/quicktime/technologies/aac/" target="_newWindow">http://www.apple.com/quicktime/technologies/aac/</a>

Apple's 'innovation' was slapping DRM on it and selling it too you, not the creation of the format. THANKS SONY!
Posted by KsprayDad (375 comments )
Link Flag
Another bogus "Apple" headline
No, sony has not added Apple support(as explained in other posts), why would you even claim that?
Sony has realized that having no marketshare, AND a proprietary format, they might as well gnaw off their own foot before getting into the race... and have pulled their head just a little ways out of their collective butts.
Just how long Sony figures they can rest on their laurels for having invented the CD is beyond me. They need to stop copying the MS business model of proprietary systems and start making quality products (that does NOT mean rootkits!).
Posted by skeptik (590 comments )
Reply Link Flag
more on reading comprehension
Not only was the article 100% factually correct, Your reply was
almost equally factually incorrect. Case in point, Sony had little to
do with the invention of the CD, contributing only the CIRC error-
correction.
Posted by DeusExMachina (516 comments )
Link Flag
Another bogus "Apple" headline
No, sony has not added Apple support(as explained in other posts), why would you even claim that?
Sony has realized that having no marketshare, AND a proprietary format, they might as well gnaw off their own foot before getting into the race... and have pulled their head just a little ways out of their collective butts.
Just how long Sony figures they can rest on their laurels for having invented the CD is beyond me. They need to stop copying the MS business model of proprietary systems and start making quality products (that does NOT mean rootkits!).
Posted by skeptik (590 comments )
Reply Link Flag
more on reading comprehension
Not only was the article 100% factually correct, Your reply was
almost equally factually incorrect. Case in point, Sony had little to
do with the invention of the CD, contributing only the CIRC error-
correction.
Posted by DeusExMachina (516 comments )
Link Flag
CNET Please REMOVE this story!!!
Please remove this story and try to understand what's going on before publishing it again.
Posted by dysonl (151 comments )
Reply Link Flag
CNET seems less and less to report facts,,,
You'd think they'd check their sources/storylines before putting them out!

We expect CNET to have the truth,,,let's get with it!
Posted by gary85739 (613 comments )
Link Flag
CNET Please REMOVE this story!!!
Please remove this story and try to understand what's going on before publishing it again.
Posted by dysonl (151 comments )
Reply Link Flag
CNET seems less and less to report facts,,,
You'd think they'd check their sources/storylines before putting them out!

We expect CNET to have the truth,,,let's get with it!
Posted by gary85739 (613 comments )
Link Flag
KFC Acknowledge's McDonald's dominance
by offering burgers on its menu.
Posted by dysonl (151 comments )
Reply Link Flag
No Special Sauce
These burgers at Kentucky Fried Chicken (I'm old school) don't have McDonalds' Special Sauce though (Fairplay DRM)

;)
Posted by KsprayDad (375 comments )
Link Flag
KFC Acknowledge's McDonald's dominance
by offering burgers on its menu.
Posted by dysonl (151 comments )
Reply Link Flag
No Special Sauce
These burgers at Kentucky Fried Chicken (I'm old school) don't have McDonalds' Special Sauce though (Fairplay DRM)

;)
Posted by KsprayDad (375 comments )
Link Flag
Great news! But not really Apple compatible.
As many have already said, AAC is not an Apple format. That being said, I think it's great to see more formats supported by digital audio players. Now we need to see support for Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, etc...
Posted by ddesy (4336 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Great news! But not really Apple compatible.
As many have already said, AAC is not an Apple format. That being said, I think it's great to see more formats supported by digital audio players. Now we need to see support for Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, etc...
Posted by ddesy (4336 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This article is totally incorrect
Cmon now, do your research before writing garbage like this. How is Sonys support of AAC an admission of Apples dominance? AAC has been around since the mid-90s, its not Apples format. Nor is Sonys new software compatible with FairPlay, Apples DRM. And you acknowledge that at the bottom of the article. Its like youre completely contradicting yourself.



Now Im no Sony fanboy, and I thought their ATRAC format was retarded, but this article is just blatantly incorrect.



I expect better from CNET.
Posted by ryanjg11 (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This article is totally incorrect
Cmon now, do your research before writing garbage like this. How is Sonys support of AAC an admission of Apples dominance? AAC has been around since the mid-90s, its not Apples format. Nor is Sonys new software compatible with FairPlay, Apples DRM. And you acknowledge that at the bottom of the article. Its like youre completely contradicting yourself.



Now Im no Sony fanboy, and I thought their ATRAC format was retarded, but this article is just blatantly incorrect.



I expect better from CNET.
Posted by ryanjg11 (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Reading comprehension and logic 101
The article clearly says AAC is "Apple's format of choice,"
meaning it is the format they have chosen to use. It does
not claim anywhere that they invented it. Don't blame the
reporter if you're illiterate.

Also note that logically, Sony choosing to make themselves
semi-compatible with iPods is, in fact, "acknowledging
Apple's dominance in the digital music playing market."
Similarly, when a company does not produce a Mac-
compatible version of their software, it reflects Apple's
small share of that market. Logic. Try it out sometime.
Posted by bingethinker (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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