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Howard Stringer becomes Sony's first non-Japanese CEO, after five years of stock declines and poor business decisions. The beginning of the end was circa 1998, when the mp3 community (then a loose collective of Web sites that posted mp3 files for downloading) sent a letter to Sony asking them if they would support the mp3 format in their minidisc players. A rather arrogant response was written by a Sony engineer saying that their ATRAC format was superior in every way, shape and form, and that there was no good reason to support an inferior format. The letter has been lost in time, but the repercussions continue:
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