May 14, 2009 at 4:23 pm 2 comments


Walkman X

Walkman X is Sony's hope to bring the iconic personal music player into the iPod age.

AdAge reports on the launch of the Sony Walkman X, a digital music player with a touchscreen and Internet connectivity.

Per the article, Sony is aiming for a niche market, naturally since the mass market for MP3 players belongs to Apple.

AdAge does a good job of recounting the Walkman story. Sony invented the personal music space 30 years ago with Walkman 1.0, the paperback-sized cassette player with the open air headphones (that last piece of gear sealed the experience). Fast forward to the 21st century, and Sony is a hardware and software (music, movies, TV, videogames) colossus. Digital music is a fact of life for everyone except the music labels who loathe the loss of control over their product. (It was so simple when everyone had to go to Sam Goody to get a packaged chunk of plastic.) Much has been written about Sony Music Entertainment staunching the parent company’s development of an effective digital Walkman.

The death of the Walkman is one more cautionary tale about staying innovative. “Cannibalization” comes up in the AdAge article, and it is apt. Moving ahead often means eating your own. Apple has already done it. The iPod Mini was a top seller when Jobs and Co. yanked it. The replacement was the iPod Nano, cooler, sleeker, and featuring flash memory. If Apple had succumbed to typical corporate-think, it would have sat back and milked the Mini, enabling another company to grab share with a flash-based player.

The Innovator’s Dilemma, Good to Great, Creative Destruction, and Will and Vision are replete with sad but educational stories of companies that rose to prominence only to falter and fade. When times and technology changed, they couldn’t slaughter the cash cow. So someone else was happy to do it for them.


Entry filed under: Creativity, Leadership, Marketing. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Dan  |  May 14, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    Sony’s fall from grace with the Walkman resembles the same arc that the music and movie industries have followed. They said, “Physical media is what makes our money! Why would we want to stop selling it?” Meanwhile, they failed to listen to their consumers who said that they didn’t want to pay for a full album, they want to watch a movie where ever they want, and if those options aren’t provided, they’ll take their business elsewhere. Whether that is to spend entertainment dollars elsewhere (such as on video games or video-on-demand online) or they simply do the illegal thing a pirate content, the content creators still think that the consumer will listen to any dictate about how to consume media, and that will invariably bring the industry to it’s knees. Then how will physical media sales look?

  • 2. Microsoft and the Product Life Cycle |  |  August 26, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    […] One example of the latter rationale comes from another giant corporation, Sony, which delayed an MP3 version of its iconic Walkman due to disdain of digital content by its music […]


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