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Music Unlimited and the Walkman

Later this year Sony will be launching a new music service which will allow users to listen to and stream music. Unlike iTunes, there will be no downloads available and users will be able to access their music anywhere they are. Sony Europe’s Fujio Nishida said that portable devices from Sony would support the service in the future. Clearly this would qualify the Walkman as one of these portable devices. But then in order to have streaming music on a PMP, the device needs wireless or a 3G connection and while WiFi is possible on a Walkman, the 3G connection will probably be limited to Sony Ericsson Walkman phone line.

The X-Series shipped with WiFi, so it is possible for a new Walkman to feature support for the service but it remains unclear when such a new device will launch. Bets are on for CES 2011, where a new X-Series replacement could show up. What is unlikely is the entire Walkman lineup featuring WiFi, since this would easily raise the price of all the models and possibly discourage consumers from purchasing a new device. I hardly ever use the WiFi on my X-Series and when I did it was a pain, and I just stick to my mobile phone for mobile internet access.

If you ask me whether this new Music Unlimited service should support any new Walkmans, I say no. The reason for this is that such a service is better suited for one’s house and not on the move. Open and free WiFi connections are still limited and it would be hard to find a spot to stream your favourite music to your device in the middle of nowhere. Besides, better codec support (FLAC, Xvid, etc) would be a much wiser investment for the Walkman line than WiFi support. So now all we can do is sit and wait for Sony’s next move in the Walkman series.

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