The two issues here are really amazing that key people in this industry just don't seem to get. Sony's problems are all self-inflicted. Again!!!!!!! The IPod was just an idea expansion.
First of all, the Sony issue. Instead of spending millions on the Qualia line of gear, why did they not just expand upon the already accepted ES line of product. Much of it was embraced by audiophiles and help create a cottage "mod" industry for those wanting "more". Second, Qualia came and went in a whimper. Who reviewed even one piece of gear? Did any one in the reviewing community audition the headpones, let alone any piece of electronics? None that I was aware of and certainly no one at Stereophile that I know of. How can a company the size of Sony be so marketing inept? I could not have done worse and would have worked for way less than the marketing gurus that probably still have jobs...surprisingly. Go figure. If an SACD/CD Walkman bombed it would have cost so much less than the Qualia (Titanic) sinking. The difference no one will spend thousands searching for the wreckage of Qualia or make movies of it, other than Michael Moore taking a shot at Sony Corporate.
With all of the engineering atg Sony how could they not do what Jolida has done, Triangle has done, Creek has done, or what Parasound, B and K, or NAD? Has the "vision" totally left the Sony building?
I do not believe that the IPod is the cause, but a further effect of the downloading craze. The Ipod and others just meant that now the downloads were totally portable. To Apple's credit by allowing AIFF and WAV files they expanded the use to those who wanted more audio quality than just MP3. They could have chose to ignore audiophiles all together, but they were smart to include us. INCLUSION!!!!
The mountain left to climb is the one of trying to convince Ipoders that listening on a pair of Epos 3s ($299) through a decent amp (Parasound mini amp) might be loads of fun...even with MP3s. The question comes up does this even make sense today with totally compressed rock music lacking dynamic range and "excitement"? Well recorded and mastered classical music is not the preferred download of choice these days. Or even well recorded and mastered jazz.
This Ipod generation that is more than willing to spend $3-$5 for a couple of Joe and $150 on sneakers that took all of "pennies" to produce. For a long time now it as been style over substance. We audiophiles just never thought it would make it way into the realm of "the passion of high quality reproduced music". The funeral already happened and no one went. No amount of de-fib paddles will revive the patient.