Sony's attempt to deliver an 'iPod-killer' under its Walkman brand has met a frosty critical response.

The Associated Press reports that the product "doesn't measure up" to Apple's iPod.

Apple has had its music player on the market for three years, and recently released the fourth-generation of its market-leading device.

Sony's "lost the plot"

Speaking to Playlist, the world's leading expert on personal stereos Dr. Michael Bull said: "Sony's lost the plot."

He believes that company's Walkman product, "accidentally touched on the cultural zeitgeist" of twenty-five years ago. "It's like they stumbled on something - the technology was very simple - but they failed to understand the music industry and technology," he explained. Apple holds the advantage today.

The AP report on Sony's digital music Walkman (that uses its own proprietary ATRAC music format) describes it as "great-looking", but "clunky". Its user interface is described as "confusing", and its software as "incredibly frustrating". Its price - $100 more than Apple's iPod, and its reliance on Windows are also criticised in the review.

Good points included battery life and a slight size advantage, however its software "doesn't rise to the level of the hardware".

Sony playing catch-up

The report ends: "The good news is that Sony is planning to redesign its music store and, eventually, its SonicStage software. Ultimately, though, there seems to be a lot more in need of revamping."

Bull's also critical of Sony's new offering too, calling it, "three years too late, and more complex to use than the iPod.

"iPods do everything Walkmans did, and a whole lot more, making music listening qualitatively different," he explained.

For now, iPod holds the crown. Similar critical reports on the Sony product have emerged from multiple sources, with the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg being most damning.

"While the new Sony is smaller than the iPod and has much better battery life, it is markedly inferior overall. It has a confusing, complex user interface that makes it hard to use; weak software for the PC; an oddball music format that makes loading it with songs tedious; and a companion music download service that offers less than Apple's. The iPod wins this round, and remains champion."