updated 9/4/2007 8:37:20 AM ET 2007-09-04T12:37:20

Sony may soon compete directly with Apple and its popular iPods and iTunes, producing its own movie download service and products, company officials said Tuesday.

"Music and video downloading has been available through networks, and we are looking into the area as a possible business," said Sony spokesman Shigenori Yoshida.

The Japanese pioneer of personal music players fell behind Apple Inc.'s and its market-leading iPod.

It also got a late start on flat-panel TVs, forcing Sony Corp. to cut jobs, shut plants and shed underperforming divisions under the guidance of Chief Executive Howard Stringer, who took over in 2005.

Last week, Sony revealed a new Walkman video player that comes with Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Media Player 11 that is capable of managing digital libraries in the U.S. and Europe.

The LCD-mounted players, which will also be compatible with MPEG-4 encoded video and AVC, are already available in Japan.

Sony said in late August it would phase out operations at its struggling Connect digital music store in favor of a new breed of digital media players open to more formats.

Sony also said it was shifting its emphasis to other network services, specifically one for users of its PlayStation game consoles.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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