Sony's iPod Assault is No Threat to Apple

The new digital Walkman is a step in the right direction, but its features fall short

It might have been a coincidence, but it still must have hurt. Sony Corp. (SNE) last fall booked a Tokyo nightclub for the unveiling of its latest Walkman music players. But halfway around the globe in San Francisco, just hours before Sony turned on the strobe lights, Apple Computer Inc. (AAPL) introduced the business-card-sized iPod nano. Although the nano isn't aimed at precisely the same market as the new Walkman, many saw the confluence of events as deeply symbolic: Here was the Japanese electronics giant that had pioneered the portable music market 26 years ago taking yet another body blow in a fight that it should have dominated.

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