Creative launches MP3 player - Sony prepares

Long term rivals Creative Labs and Diamond Multimedia clash on a new front today as the former releases the first serious challenge to Diamond's Rio MP3 player in the US. UK customers will have to wait, possibly until autumn.

The Creative Nomad holds an hour of CD-quality music, can record voice notes and has a snazzy LCD display to show titles and artists. American consumers will be able to buy the Nomad for around $200 (£122).

But as diminutive PC firms rush to get kit out the door, Japanese electronics giant Sony is preparing for a little sport in the form of its own digital Walkman. The Walkman could easily flatten the competition according to advertising execs who reckon the player will benefit from a major advertising campaign. "This is a great advertising opportunity for Sony" says one source close to Sony's ad plans. "Diamond started this whole trend and you can be sure the heavyweights will start throwing dollars at it to sew it up," says the source.

Sony is likely to use its own Memory Stick technology in the digital Walkman instead of Flash storage which is considerably more expensive. "I'd be surprised if this thing comes to market using another memory technology," says the source. "For a start it will be launching a great new cutting edge gadget. It makes sense to back that gadget up with Sony's own memory technology, it kills two birds with one stone."

No UK release dates are available for the Nomad.

Sony officials were unavailable for comment.

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