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Sony has confirmed it is developing a Walkman for the Internet era. The new device, dubbed the Netman, has been developed specifically to store and play downloaded digital music files. Speaking at the launch of the Sony's Super Audio CD, company president Nobuyuki Idei said the device will be launched later this year as part of IBM's San Diego-based public trials of its Madison technology. Madison is the first attempt to create a large-scale digital content delivery system that handles not only the download process, but takes in e-commerce transaction processing, rights management and copyright protection (see IBM's Project Madison: the music industry's Manhattan Project?). In fact, Idei specifically said the Netman -- the name is only provisional, he later admitted -- would only be released once a complete copyright protection system was in place. Sony is working on just such a system itself, known as MagicGate (see Sony enters digital music contest with MP3-beater). Other officials, cited by CNN, said the company had decided it will not support the controversial MP3 (MPEG Layer 3) audio format. Idei also said the device would be based on Sony's Memory Stick storage technology, launched late last year. Memory Stick is Sony's bid for a universal Flash storage format to be used in any consumer digital product and even for transferring data between computers. ®

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