Sony Walkman outsold the iPod in Japan for the first time in four years, new research claims – but the research is flawed…

Electronics research firm, BCN, made the new claim for Japanese marketshare this morning, saying Sony’s Walkman claimed 43 per cent of local sales of portable music players in the week ending August 30. This compares to Apple’s 42.1 per cent share.

These results are being explained as significant because they represent the first time since January 2005 Sony has beaten Apple in this market, but the figures don’t include iPhone sales, rendering them questionable.

Sony is offering its products at lower prices than those Apple charges, but despite the slight lead, analysts aren’t totally blown away. “Sony has gained customers seeking less expensive products and those seeking high quality by broadening its lineup,” Kazuharu Miura, an analyst with Daiwa Institute of Research told Bloomberg. “But you can’t really say Sony regained its competitiveness against Apple unless it improves its market share in the U.S. and Europe.”

Apple’s music player sales will also have been impacted by expectation of new model iPods later this month. Promise of a product upgrade will inevitably depress sales of the current range. We can’t see Sony’s slight lead maintaining itself once new iPods ship.

Sales of portable music players in Japan fell by 13.5 per cent in August from a year earlier, the report claims.

Meanwhiole, Credit Suisse analyst, Bill Shope, raised his target price on Apple stock from $175 to $200 this morning, predicting strong Mac and iPhone revenues, and positive momentum from next week’s iPod refresh.

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