The Comeback of the Sony Walkman. Wait–What?

At one time, Sony ruled the portable music device universe, starting with the Walkman in 1979.  They had a pretty good run, too, including the introduction of the DiscMan.  But then along came Apple with the iPod and slapped Sony silly.  They’ve never recovered.

Sony also has a history of doing do dumb, arrogant things when it comes to technology.  They bet on the wrong horse with the Betamax.  They were positive that the MiniDisc was going to succeed the CD.  They insisted on a stupid proprietary format when it come to digital music players. They let the quality of their TVs slide.  Microsoft’s XBox outflanked Playstation.  What was once the leading innovator in the consumer electronics industry is now an also-ran.

So what’s their solution to help restore the company’s market dominance?  Bring back the Walkman.

It’s called the ZX1, a rather bulky Android-powered digital music device with 128 GB of memory, designed to hold high-quality (read: better than MP3s) audio files.  It’s carved from a single block of aluminum and sells for about $700.

Before you laugh, the ZX1 sold out its initial run in Japan back in December and is currently selling well in selected European and Asian markets.  It’s only a matter of time before it (or one of the 24 other high-resolution audio devices they’re building) shows up in North America.

More on the story at the Wall Street Journal.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

2 thoughts on “The Comeback of the Sony Walkman. Wait–What?

  • July 21, 2014 at 10:56 am
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    I’d be happy to buy something like this at a (much) cheaper price. I know the idea of a dedicated music player is passe for some, but I love the idea of listening to music without draining my phone battery.

    Reply
  • July 30, 2014 at 1:04 am
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    I am on my third digital Walkman. Aside from constant mockery because people still associate the name with CD or even cassette players and the fussiness of transferring music, I have always been happy. My main complaint (a rant I tend to repeat too frequently) is that they essentially abandoned it. SONY doesn’t seem to make even one dock for the Walkman. I am not surprised by third parties failure. Maybe this attempted resurgence will resolve this issue.

    Reply

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