End of the line for made-in-Japan Walkmans

Sony Corp. has decided to end production in Japan of the Walkman portable music player and shift it to Malaysia, it said Wednesday.

Sony has decided to end production in Japan of the Walkman portable music player, it said Wednesday.

The player, which created the portable music market and defined it for two decades, was first produced in Japan in 1979. Around 350 million have been sold since then, according to Sony.

Today, the majority are made at a Sony factory in Malaysia, but production of a few models of CD and MiniDisc Walkman remain at a plant in Saitama, north of Tokyo. This will change by March because Sony plans to turn the factory into a product design center, said Junko Sato, a spokeswoman for the company in Tokyo.

The factory also makes other portable audio products, including radios and voice recorders, and this will all be shifted primarily to Malaysia, she said.

The news comes after a tough few years for the Walkman, which was replaced almost overnight by Apple Computer's iPod as the coolest name in portable audio. Sony failed to recognize and respond fast enough to a strong consumer preference and demand for flash memory or hard-disk drive-based players and was caught unable to compete well with the iPod.

The difference in consumer preference is clear: Apple shipped 14 million iPods in the last three months of 2005, it said last week, while Sony has set 14 million as a sales target for Walkman products for the entire year from April 2005 to March 2006.

"The portable audio market is changing fast," said Yutaka Nakagawa, an executive vice president of Sony and president of its digital audio business group, in a briefing last week. "Two or three years ago CD Walkman was a big market, but now it's moving to flash and HDD [hard-disk drive] players. MiniDisc is still there but the portable market is shifting to digital."

In addition to strengthening its line-up of portable audio products, Sony is also building its Connect service -- the company's answer to the iTunes Music Store -- and last week said it would shift the division to come under control of the portable audio business unit.

Sony is due to announce financial results for the October to December 2005 period on Thursday.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?