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Sunday, October 31, 2010
Sony Walkman Laid To Rest

On October 25, 2010, Sony announced that it will stop production of its iconic handheld consumer electronic device.

After thirty years of faithful portable service, the Sony Walkman will be sorely missed.. maybe not in the sense that it?s been in high demand of late. Technical evolution is what it is, and the Apple iPod, along with the digital distribution of music, diminished demand for the Sony Walkman almost a decade ago. But let?s not forget what the Sony Walkman did for the world of portable entertainment. It created portable entertainment. It defined portable entertainment. Without the Walkman, perhaps the iPod wouldn?t exist today.

The Sony Walkman was developed in 1979 ? a time when music was something one had to experience through a stereo system while confined to one room. But the Sony Walkman offered the freedom to take music with you ? to make it a part of your life no matter where you went. And while the ability to take music "on-the-go" was revolutionary at the time, one must look deeper to really understand what made the Sony Walkman so incredible: personalization. There was no longer any separation from music. Donning foam-covered earphones and adding a bounce in one?s step, an individual could take his favorite music along with him and easily share his musical tastes with family and friends. In addition, the Sony Walkman played back user-recorded blank cassettes. Why was this so important? It was important because Walkman owners could pick and choose their favorite songs and create a personalized mixed tape (moment of silence, please, for the mixed tape.)

Fast forward to 2003, and recognize that Apple did not miss this personalized Music+Life m?lange. In that year, the Cupertino giant launched its iPod + iTunes campaign. Remember those crazed silhouette dancers flailing around on the street wearing the now iconic white ear buds? They were out and about in their world, taking their music with them, dancing in their own way to their favorite song. And iTunes allows the user to cherry pick songs for purchase, instead of having to buy the entire album. There it is again: personalization.

Now?fast forward to today. We have music on-the-go in virtually every portable device we own. There?s audio playback offered in portable MP3 players, smartphones, laptops, netbooks, tablets, digital photo frames, and the list goes on. There?s also video and navigation on most of these devices. There?s image capture and creation. There?s voice recording?and social networking?and that list goes on as well.

Point is: Today, consumers don?t want to take just their music with them. They want to take all their content with them. And they want access to this content anytime, anywhere. As a result, virtually all portable, mobile, and computing devices connect to the Internet through a wide array of connectivity options in order to allow consumers access to their content libraries.

But it all started with one revolutionary freedom: Music on-the-go.

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