Sony's Walkman digital music player outsold the Apple iPod in Japan last week - the first that has happened in more than four years, according to Bloomberg, citing data from Tokyo-based research firm BCN.

Sony's share of the portable music player market for the week ended August 30 was 43%,exceeding Apple's 42.1%, ending the lead that the iPod maker had kept since January 2005, the electronics researcher BCN said in a statement on Wednesday.

It was the first week Apple gave up the lead spot on the list since January 2005 in Japan.

However, the BCN data didn't count the iPhone in the survey, and to some extent the results reflect some users buying iPhones instead of iPods.

Sony has gained customers seeking less expensive products and those seeking high quality by broadening its lineup, Bloomberg said, citing Kazuharu Miura, an analyst with Daiwa Institute of Research Ltd as saying. But you can't really say Sony regained its competitiveness against Apple unless it improves its market share in the U.S. and Europe.

Sony lifted its sales forecast for digital music players on July 30 to 6.7 million units for the year ending March 2010 from its May estimate of 6.3 million. That compares with 7 million sold in the previous year.

Sales of portable music players in Japan fell by 13.5 percent in August from a year earlier, a fifth straight month of decline, according to BCN. New products by Sony or Apple are expected to revitalize the stagnant market, the researcher said in the statement.

In August overall, sales of portable music players in Japan fell 13.5% from a year ago, a fifth straight month of decline, according to BCN.

 New products by Sony or Apple are expected to revitalize the stagnant market, the researcher said in the statement.

Apple may introduce new iPod models at its rock and roll event on Sept. 9, helping the company regain its share, the researcher said.