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Sony Connect Disconnecting?

Is Sony going to pull the plug on its Connect music-download store? A report at the site last weekend said so, citing unnamed sources at Sony.

Axing Connect would make a lot of sense, as the store has been one of the biggest failures in the digital-music business. But on Tuesday, Sony spokeswoman Jennifer Glass said Connect would continue operating: "We intend to continue to support the existing Connect services."

Now, "intend to continue to support" is not quite an unequivocal declaration; people can change their intentions all the time. In a follow-up e-mail sent late Wednesday, however, Glass said that Sony would continue adding songs to Connect's 3-million-title inventory.

The company is, however, apparently laying off people at Connect, according to this Associated Press story. And is standing by its original report, saying that Connect is still headed for a shutdown.

If Sony does close Connect, it may face one embarrassing problem: Will anybody notice?

Connect's hideously bad SonicStage software, proprietary ATRAC file format, thin inventory, weak hardware support and punitive usage restrictions put it behind competitors from the start (here's my original review) and never got much better. This store probably won't be missed. It may not even be remembered.

But maybe I'm wrong here. If you shop at Sony Connect, tell me what you like about it. If you once did but then gave up, tell me what drove you away.

(True confession: I shopped at Connect myself, even after writing that scathing review! Details after the jump.)

OK, I shopped--but I never spent any money. Sony had a promotion running at somebody else's Web site (as I recall, it was a car manufacturer), where signing up for some newsletter would get you a handful of free Connect downloads. I grabbed a few songs, burned them onto an audio CD, and then promptly copied the music right back off the CD in MP3 format. Then I unsubscribed from the newsletter.

By Rob Pegoraro  |  June 22, 2007; 9:40 AM ET
Categories:  Music  
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Connect isn't that bad. It's no better/no worse than any of the other competitors. The navigation of the store isn't so hot/quick. But I'm one of those that only uses free downloads, or downloads off of promotions, I'd rather go buy the actual disk and then rip it.

Posted by: Kim | June 22, 2007 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I like CONNECT. The ATRAC3 format, is no more DRM'ed than AAC or WMA. CONNECT allows you to re-download purchased music for free, something I can't say the same for with iTunes.

CONNECT Provides:

- 7 Playlist Redbook CD Burns, like iTunes.
- Unlimited exportation to a Flash or HDD Walkman, like iTunes.
- Unlimited exportation to Memory Stick/Mini-Disc devices, pending it's not from the Warner Music Group. Then it's just 3.
- 5 ATRAC3 CD burns, except from Universal Music Group content.

My only complaints for CONNECT is possibly to raise the bitrate from 132kbps ATRAC3 to 192kbps ATRAC3plus and the addition of a subscription music service.

CONNECT as a store is better, but no worse than iTunes in my opinion. SonicStage isn't as good as iTunes, but it's gotten better at what it does over time.

Posted by: Craig | June 22, 2007 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Wasn't Sony's previous online music service(PressPlay, I believe) also a failure? I wonder how much they've lost on these two ventures.

Posted by: ArlVA | June 22, 2007 2:52 PM | Report abuse

When I bought my portable MiniDisc recorder to digitize vinyl albums with, it came with a few credits for the Connect store. Their woeful support for the Macs in our home kept me from doing any more than downloading those few freebies (and it wasn't easy to find even a few songs I was interested in there); between that and the "rootkit" DRM'ed CDs debacle, no, I'm not sorry to see the store go away.

Posted by: Charles | June 22, 2007 4:37 PM | Report abuse

I used Sony Connect twice to support charitable fundraising drives for Asian tsunami and hurricane Katrina victims. Both times were so bad that I never went back to buy anything else, I'll never buy another Sony product tied to Sony Connect or the ATRAC3 format, and more potential donations were probably lost than gained by Sony's shoddy music service. Download failures and disruptions both times required 1-2 days' worth of repeated attempts before I actually received the whole albums I paid for. Customer service inquiries were never answered. If Sony ever offers another charitable promotion, I'd suggest everyone just download the music for free somewhere else and donate $20 to groups like the Red Cross directly. This way charitable groups get 100% of the proceeds and Sony does not deserve to earn any share of the proceeds for undermining charitable causes with shoddy service this.

Posted by: annanemas | June 23, 2007 10:42 AM | Report abuse

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