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Crave Talk: Why is Sony culling its most innovative products?

Sony is getting rid of its best-looking MP3 player -- and we don't understand why. Is this Japanese giant falling down to the bottom of its beanstalk?

First the Aibo and the Qrio, now the Walkman Bean. Like a mother taking her most beautiful children outside and drowning them in the rain-bucket, Sony seems to be eliminating its most exciting designs.

The company's MP3 players have always had a remarkably short life-cycle, but the Bean was by far its most distinctive and usable player. Yet the Bean has been axed only six months after launch.

Many critics suspect that, in its desperation to topple Apple, Sony has been reluctant to commit to a single player and promote it effectively. Instead, the company scurries about like an overworked barman, serving increasingly exotic and badly thought-out cocktails, all the time staring enviously at the packed bar across the road.

The Independent puts Sony's decision to axe the Bean down to "the digital revolution and the fashion for ruthlessly upgrading" -- but if this is true, why has Apple's iPod design remained relatively unchanged since it's inception?

Like The Independent, the Telegraph used news of the Bean's demise to run a feature on how short-lived modern tech is: "The life cycle of electronic gadgets has shrunk from years to months", writes their consumer affairs editor. If this is true, how to explain the continuing popularity of the Motorola Razr V3, launched over two years ago?

What about the death of Aibo? Arguably the most ambitious consumer electronic product in the world, Sony's electronic dog lasted longer than the Bean but shared its untimely demise. Perhaps Sony's recent decision to get rid of exciting products and replace them with something -- anything -- 'new' is not a sign of restless public appetite for change. It may say more about consumer electronics companies that are afflicted by a kind of retail attention deficit disorder.

Rather than refine a product, or simply design a great one to begin with, they'd sooner change it entirely. If Sony were a person, we'd put it on a strong dose of Ritalin. -Chris Stevens