That’s the sound of customers crying over the demise of Sony Connect. But don’t blame yourself if you can’t hear them. Sony Connect wasn’t exactly a household name. Not like Napster or iTunes.

Which is why Sony Corp. is shuttering its online music store, which sold downloads formatted in the company’s proprietary digital rights management technology called ATRAC.

Sony announced Connect’s demise at a Berlin consumer electronics trade fair as it rolled out two new lines of digital Walkmans – the NWZ-A810 and the NWZ-S610 – which handle WMA, MP3 and AAC formats, and play video as well.

The company also introduced a new audio-only Walkman, the NWZ-B100.

But it was news that Sony Connect is going bye-bye that captured the media’s attention. Launched in 2004, Sony Connect never captured a share of the downloading market. At least, not a significant enough slice of the pie to justify its existence.

Although no date has been given for the shutdown, Sony e-mailed Connect users stating that the store would not close before March 2008.

Ironically, the new digital Walkmans will not directly support ATRAC files, but Sony is offering software to convert non-secure ATRAC files to MP3s. So customers who purchased protected downloads from Sony Connect will have to convert the files the old-fashioned way – burning them to CD and ripping the newly burned tracks back to the hard drive.

No See TV On iTunes

At first, it was NBC Universal telling Apple it wouldn’t renew its contract and that the network’s TV programs would only stay on iTunes until the end of this year.

Then Apple fired a return salvo, saying it wouldn’t sell any programming from the Peacock’s new fall season.

The snafu is all about the price. ITunes sells programming from ABC, CBS, Fox, CW and 50 other cable outlets for $1.99 per episode. According to Apple, NBC wanted to more than double the wholesale price it charges the consumer electronics company for programs.

Contrary to Apple’s version of events, NBC says it never asked for that price hike, but instead wanted flexibility in packaging and pricing its programs. What’s more, NBC insists that Apple is contractually obligated to carry new episodes of returning shows, like “Heroes” and “The Office,” until the end of the year.

But the current NBC / Apple dispute doesn’t mean NBC programming won’t have an online outlet. Only days after Apple said it wasn’t going to carry NBC Universal shows, the network announced plans to sell episodes on’s digital download service, Amazon Unbox.

To get things rolling, the network will allow free downloads of some of its new upcoming shows, including “Bionic Woman,” “Chuck,” “Journeyman” and “Life,” before the shows debut on television. Other than that, the game plan remains pretty much the same, with episodes appearing on Amazon Unbox the day after they air.

The Zune Phone Cometh?

Is Microsoft planning a phone version of its Zune digital media player?


In sort of a general, maybe yes / maybe no kind of response, Mindy Mount, chief financial officer for the company’s entertainment and devices division, told investors at Citigroup’s global technology conference that such a gadget just might be a possibility.

“It wouldn’t be unreasonable to think, expect at some point there might be some integrated thing,” Mount said, according to Reuters.

Apparently Microsoft has, at times, alluded to such an “integrated thing.” When the company introduced Zune last year, it said a phone was in the works.

However, earlier this year at a CEO forum, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said a Zune Phone was not in his company’s future.

But never say never when it comes to Microsoft. There was a time when Bill Gates dismissed the Internet as no big deal. But that was back in the early 1990s.

Meanwhile, if you’re interested in a Zune / cell phone combo, searching YouTube for “Zune Phone” will bring back someone’s idea of what a phone designed by Microsoft might actually look like. You just gotta love that rotary dial interface.