Sony plans to add support for MP3 music files to some of its portable music players.

Sony Electronics spokeswoman Gretchen Griswold told CNN: "Sony plans to release some new flash-based players with both MP3 and Atrac playback in Europe this year."

Until now Sony had insisted that users of its devices convert their digital song files -– often already in the MP3 format – to Sony's own Atrac format. While Apple also ties users to its proprietary format, ACC with FairPlay, the iPod is able to play MP3s.

Sony is also expected to introduce MP3 playing audio-devices in the United States, but Griswold did not know when.