Sony finally ready to disconnect music store
They are taking a two-step approach. The whole service will cease on March 31st 2008, but before that, on March 1st, the online component - http://www.connect-europe.com - will be closed.
That always, in my view, should have been the unique advantage the Sony service had. Unlike the iTunes music store, which required the installation of iTunes to browse it, Sony should have been able to promote the service and the special offer track bundles to anybody with a browser. It also meant that when giving away promotional vouchers for track downloads, users could browse the catalogue online without committing themselves.
The voucher system faced legal opposition in some territories however. In 2006 Sony lost a court case in France which ruled that they had not done enough to inform consumers that Sony Digital Walkmans could not play tracks with DRM purchased at other online music stores, and that it was anti-competitive for Sony to include vouchers for free downloads from Connect with their hardware.
By far the biggest drawback though was the insistence that all music purchased through Connect had to be managed by the SonicStage software.
Sony's closure notice email to users basically urges them to burn all of their music onto CD if they ever want to buy another computer again:
We always strongly recommend that you use the facilities provided through SonicStage to archive your library of downloads purchased on CONNECT to audio CDs for your further, strictly private use.
However in addition, please note that as you will no longer be able to access your purchase history, or request re-issuing of purchased contents after 31st March 2008, archiving your purchases to audio CD is the only way you can completely ensure continued access to your purchased contents after 31st March 2008.
This is of particular importance if you anticipate changing your current PC configuration at any stage, such as buying a new PC or replacing your Operating System.
SonicStage offers functionality to convert the non-DRM protected part of your library into formats other than ATRAC. Please respect applicable copyright laws whenever converting".