In 1979, Sony introduced a little device called the Walkman, a portable way to listen to audio cassette tapes. Today, 30 years and countless innovations later, all remaining threads on the Walkman's lifeline in Japan have been cut. Yes, Sony has decided to pull the plug on the gadget that first made it a household name in audio electronics. The company has sold more than 220 million Walkman units worldwide.
Today's announcement marks the end of production for the device in Japan, the market where it was introduced and became the birthplace of today's environment of portable music players. However, the Walkman cassette units will continue to be sold in other, less developed parts of the world.
Sony no longer has a stranglehold on the digital audio market. In fact, it's struggling in that arena these days thanks to rival devices from Apple and others. Its PSP game system continues to have a presence in portable media but beyond that it has struggled to retain its voice in digital music.
It also failed in its attempt to run its own digital music store, Sony Connect. The plug was pulled on that project a couple years ago.
Nevertheless, Sony's contribution to the way the music world is today cannot be undermined, and today is more about celebrating a legacy that Sony kicked off.