Sony Corp.(SNE) said on Thursday it is developing a video-capable Walkman, playing catch-up with Apple Computer Inc.'s market-leading iPod.

Sony created the market for portable music players with its epoch-making Walkman more than a quarter of a century ago, but in recent years it has trailed far behind Apple (AAPL), whose iPod holds more than half the global digital media player market.

"We are developing a product that handles images, but I cannot make any comment on specific plans," Sony Senior Vice President Hiroshi Yoshioka told a news conference that unveiled upcoming Walkman models.

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Apple launched a video-enabled iPod last October.

Yoshioka also said on the sidelines of the news conference that he aims to double Walkman's share in the global portable digital music player market from the current 10 percent, without elaborating.

Sony and any other portable music player makers are expected to face a new and potentially formidable rival next month as Microsoft Corp.(MSFT), the world's largest software maker, launches its Zune music player, further stoking competition.

Sony also said it will start rolling out five new models of a flash-memory-based Walkman, shaped like a perfume bottle, toward the end of the year at home and abroad.

A 4-gigabyte model with a noise-reduction function is expected to sell for around $240 in Japan, Sony said.

Sony shares closed up 1.8 percent at 4,590 yen, outperforming the Tokyo stock market's electrical machinery index, which fell 0.45 percent.