October 25, 2010 at 10:43 am

Rumors of Sony Walkman’s Demise Greatly Exaggerated

As the world of music apps is exploding, the device that first allowed us to listen to our music on the go — the Sony Walkman — has reportedly reached retirement age after a stunning 200 million units sold since its launch in 1979.

Crunchgear, Gizmodo, Mashable and others reported over the weekend that Sony will cease manufacture of this venerable device, after which hundreds or thousands of websites re-trumpeted the claim that the Walkman was finally, irrevocably, dead. Contrary to those erroneous reports, which continue to be published on Monday morning, the Walkman will in fact survive.

Repeat: Sony has not ceased production of the Sony Walkman.

The real story that emerged following some digging by the Associated Press is that while Sony Japan ceased production of the devices in April, Sony will continue to crank them out in China. So save those retrospectives and epitaphs, because new Walkmans continue to be made over 30 years after the first happy customers enjoyed personal music playback in a portable setting, even as other listening options proliferate.

Sony spokesman Hiroko Nakamura confirmed to to the AP’s Tokyo bureau on Monday that Sony’s Chinese factory(ies) will continue production, claiming that while only elderly Japanese still rely on the Walkman, younger users in the Europe, the United States and elsewhere in Asia continue to find a use for it.

Of course, eventually, these fallacious headlines about the Walkman fading into the history books could eventually come true. Perhaps they’re not wrong — they’re just early.

A note to app developers: On the day that Sony actually retires the Walkman, certain nostalgic music fans might be persuaded to install an app that playfully recreates the Walkman listening experience. It’s relatively easy to convert one’s old mixtapes into MP3s, after all; maybe the app could handle that too — and hey, why not add some basic sharing features? Perhaps the Walkman will live on as a virtual app with which music fans of a certain age will relive their old mixtapes (and maybe even turn them into muxtapes). For now, the hardware version of the Walkman is still being made, regardless of what you may have read elsewhere.

Photo: Flickr/Asim Bijarani

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  • http://www.makereal.net Robyn Rhodes

    The more I hear it reported that the Walkman isn’t being produced any more, the more annoying it becomes after having read this post. I mean how shoddy has reporting become? To me it seems like a huge marketing ploy to boost sales for SONY. The Walkman is going the route of the Volkswagen Beatle, now made in Mexico. Will people be running around touting that their Walkman is a Japanese made and not Chinese made, the way a VW Beatle owners covet German made issues? If I hear one more sappy puff piece about a “my first walkman experience” on NPR, I’m going to have to stick my finger down my throat.

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