After 30 years, Sony has announced that they will stop manufacturing and selling the venerable cassette Walkman. In a poetic twist, the official death of the Walkman lands on the iPod's 9th anniversary.* UPDATE: Only dead in Japan
The Sony Walkman was introduced on July 1, 1979 in Japan and it was a major breakthrough in delivering a low-cost portable stereo. It wasn't an overnight hit though, it was largely panned by the media and only sold 3,000 units by the end of July. But Sony kept on pushing, targeting the Walkman toward the younger market and advertising it with younger pop stars. By the end of August, sales increased 10-fold and later in the early 80's it became the must-have item for everyone. Over its 30 year history of the Cassette Walkman, Sony sold 200 million units. A portable music player became a part of our lives, largely because of the Walkman.
It's amazing to not think of the Walkman when it comes to portable music players but the introduction of the iPod and iTunes and the iPod's ensuing dominance has pretty much phased that idea out. The iPod was introduced on October 23, 2001 and though also originally ignored, the iPod has grown at a ridiculous rate and seamlessly moved on to various versions, different form factors and more power and capability. A portable music player couldn't just be a music player anymore, largely because of the iPod.
In reality, the cassette Walkman died many years ago because of the CD player (or Discman), not the iPod. But the Walkman's dominance in the portable music player market died because of Sony's mistakes in betting on losing technology and not tying the portable experience with easy to use desktop software. Those missteps gave way for the iPod. So really, having the Walkman's officially die on the anniversary of the iPod's birth couldn't be any more perfect. [IT Media via CrunchGear]
*Yes, Sony announced they'll stop manufacturing the Walkman on October 22, 2010 and the original iPod was introduced on October 23, 2001. Close enough.
Update: So we weren't exactly right about the Walkman's demise. Sony contacted us to say that the plug's only been pulled in Japan, and they will continue to sell a lone cassette Walkman model in the US (If you're trying to pull off an 80s or 90s themed Halloween costume, this could be a crucial accessory).