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Sony writes swan song for radio service

The consumer-electronics giant plans to discontinue eMarker, a device that helped identify songs playing on the radio.

Sony, which last week pulled the plug on its eVilla Internet appliance, now plans to discontinue a device that helped identify songs playing on the radio.

The consumer-electronics giant plans to offer a $25 refund to those who purchased the key-chain attachment, which is basically a digital stopwatch that can connect to a PC. By pressing the lone button on the device and then connecting to a computer, eMarker owners could find out information about the song they had "bookmarked."

"The idea was very innovative," said Sony spokesman Mack Araki. "I think it is fair to say that the products and service were received well by the customers who used it. However, we concluded it is not feasable to generate a reasonable rate of return in the near future."

Sony said it had sold about 40,000 of the devices since its introduction last year, mostly over the Internet. The units sold for between $20 and $30, though Araki said most were purchased at the lower price.

Sony plans to discontinue the Web service that allows consumers to use the device at the end of the month, according to its Web site.

As a result of the move, 17 jobs are being eliminated, and employees will be given 60 days to find jobs within Sony or elsewhere.

Music bookmarking rival Xenote shut its doors a year ago, shortly after eMarker was announced.

With the discontinuation of eVilla and eMarker, Araki said, Sony plans to concentrate efforts on devices that take advantage of high-speed Internet connections.

Araki said Sony made the decision in late August and announced it to eMarker owners in an e-mail Tuesday.