Sony is preparing to take another swing at Apple Computer\u2019s iPod digital music player, a top Sony executive said Friday.The company is developing a new music player that will go on sale in the United States\u00a0and other markets over the next year, alongside a companion download service and software, said Takao Yuhara, senior vice president of Sony, at a briefing with reporters in Tokyo.The player will be "typically Sony," he said, drawing on the company\u2019s strength in areas like design and long battery life.Apple has a commanding lead in the music player market and is particularly strong in the United States, where it\u2019s estimated to command more than 80 percent share. Sony has tried to unseat Apple in that market before with little success, and its recently launched A-series Walkman digital music players are on sale only in Japan and Europe.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nSony HeadquartersThe new player will be lauched within the current fiscal year, which ends in March 2007, Yuhara said. He wouldn\u2019t be more specific, but acknowledged that the holiday sales period between the U.S. Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays is an important time for consumer electronics products.Sony sold 4.5 million digital music players in the year to March, and expects this to rise to 5.5 million in the current year, the company said Thursday when it announced its financial results. In contrast, Apple shipped 8.5 million iPods in the first three months of this year alone, it said earlier this month.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nSales of all audio products at Sony fell 6.2 percent in the past year, to 536.5 billion yen (about US$4.7 billion). Operating profit at the division was 2.7 billion yen, against a loss of 2.4 billion yen in the year earlier. \n\n-Martyn Williams, IDG News ServiceFor related news coverage, read Sony Reports Profits Well Ahead of Forecast.Check out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.