Originally created 01/12/04

Report: Sony develops longer recording mini disc



TOKYO -- Sony Corp. has developed a technology that boosts the audio recording capacity of its mini-discs from the current 80 minutes to a whopping 40 hours, Japan's leading business daily, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, reported Wednesday.

Sony spokeswoman Junko Sato said Sony planned an announcement about mini-disc technology and products Thursday but said parts of the newspaper report were inaccurate. She did not elaborate.

The report said Sony plans to start selling the mini-discs and recorders this year and will approach other makers to adopt the technology, including rival Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., producer of the Panasonic brand.

The new disc is the same size as current discs, which record 80 minutes of sound each, and the new machines will be able to play both new and old discs, the report said. The recorders will have copyright protection and will be able to record video, the paper said without elaborating.

Sony's offering may be a bid to better compete against digital audio products already on the market such as Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod, which holds up to 10,000 songs on a hard drive.

The news comes as Sony has been struggling to lift its image and sales after it fell behind rivals in hit consumer electronics products such as flat-panel TVs and DVD recorders.

Sony estimates that global sales of mini-disc players and recorders from all manufacturers have totaled about 80 million since the devices went on sale in 1992. Sony expects to sell more than 7 million mini-disc Walkmans worldwide in the fiscal year ending in March.