iPod Outsold by Walkman in Japan
by Simon Hill

original walkmanThe first brand in portable music was undoubtedly the Sony Walkman. The original Walkman was a cassette player with headphones and it first went on sale in Japan in 1979. It was actually developed for the co-chairman of the company, Akio Morita, because he wanted to listen to operas during his frequent long plane trips. It took the world by storm and although many companies produced similar products the brand name Walkman became synonymous with portable cassette players in general.

In recent years the move to digital audio players has seen a similar development with the iPod. There are all sorts of brands of MP3 players out there but Apple’s iPod has enjoyed the most success and once again the brand name has become synonymous with the device. Like Sony did throughout the 80’s with the Walkman, Apple have continued to innovate with new models of iPod in order to maintain their leading position.

new walkmanWith the development of the CD the Walkman brand lost its way. Sony attempted to popularise a Discman device but it never enjoyed the same appeal as the Walkman. As things moved toward digital audio Sony revamped the Walkman range and went head to head with Apple and the iPod. Well in the week ending 30th August for the first time in several years Sony managed to outsell Apple in the realm of portable music players in Japan with a slightly higher market share.

The bad news is that sales of portable music players in general are in decline. The statistics also don’t include the Apple iPhone which is classified as a mobile phone but has the same functionality as a top end iPod. Sony announced their first annual loss in 14 years back in May and they are clearly making moves to redress the balance with a revitalised Walkman range and a new model and big price drop for the PS3. Perhaps this is an early sign of them bouncing back?


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