Journey of SONY : A Revolution of Walkman to I-Pod 1981 Walkman II Sony is arguably Japan’s best known company and one of the world’s largest and most well respected consumer-product manufacturers. Its products are world famous and sold everywhere around the globe. Surveys in early 2000s have showed that Sony was the most recognized and esteemed brand name in the United States (ahead of Coca Cola, General Motors and General Electric) and is third coolest global brand after Nike and Tommy Hilfinger among American teens. Although Sony has some of its luster since then it is still a remarkable company.
Sony is the world’s No. 2 consumer electronic maker after Panasonic with around $70 billion in worldwide sales. One of Japan’s first internationally-minded companies, it has relied heavily on exports and was among the first Japanese firms to build a U. S. factory. In the 1960s, 70s and 80s it helped turned “Made in Japan” from a joke into a symbol in unsurpassed quality. Sony has traditionally been known as a great innovator that transformed entire categories of electronics with products like the Walkman music player and PlayStation game console, and was able command premium prices for its top-quality products.
Sony not only changed business and the electronic industry it also changed the world. Before it came along electronics were large bulky products that kept people sequestered in their homes. After Sony, they became small products that people they could to take with them to enhance their surroundings wherever they went. Sony topped a Harris poll for best brands for the 7th consecutive year in 2006. Dell and Coca Cola were 2nd and 3rd respectively. In 2004, it was ranked by Forbes as the 72nd largest company in the world. Sony placed 35th in the 2011 Interbrand Best Global Brands ranking. Coca Cola and IBM were No. and 2. Sony had 160,000 employees and 57 manufacturing sites as of September 2008. It has traditionally been regarded as one of the top transnational companies in terms of foreign assets and foreign employees. The goal of the company has been to apply the most advanced technology to consumer products for fun and enjoyment rather than just practical uses. Sony Walkman Walkman prototype The Walkman miniature cassette player first went on sale in July, 1979. Inspired by pocket cassette recorders designed for dictation, it changed the way we lived by making music and electronics portable, personal and mobile.
It changed the lifestyles and listening habits of millions and was particularly embraced by young people, commuters and joggers. In 1986, “Walkman” was added to the Oxford English dictionary. For a while it was used as a generic term for all portable music devices. The Walkman was originally made as a prototype so that Sony co-founder Akio Morita could listen to opera on long-distance flights. The device, which was original marketed in Britain as the Stowaway, almost didn’t happen. “Everybody gave me a hard time,” Morita said in his memoirs.
Sony engineers and executive said it was ludicrous to sell a tape-player without a recording function. It took a while for the Walkman to catch on. Sales initially were sluggish. The Walkman has been described as Morita’s product and his greatest contribution to Sony. It was Ibuka who came up with the idea for product but Morita was the one who overcame resistance of senior Sony executives to bring the product to market. The Walkman was the right product for the right time. It was the prefect device for the me generation era and the fitness craze.
Its headphone output jack was originally named “guy” and input hole “doll. ” A famous Walkman ad from the 1980s featured a monkey (a Japanese macaque) listening to a Walkman with a very human-like relaxed, content expression on its face. The Walkman was followed by Watchman mini television (1982) and Discman compact disc player (1984) and hundred of imitations by competitors. As of 2004, 340 million Walkman had been sold and130 different Walkman models had been released. They included models that ran MDs and memory sticks. The first device to gain as much attention as Sony’s Walkman was Apple Ipod, released in 2004.
In response to that Sony introduced a hard disk Vaio pocket and a hard disk Walkman. In October 2010, Sony announced it was cease producing conventional Walkman cassette players. They were done in by competition from MP2 players and Ipods. They lasted for 31 years. Sony and Sweden’s Ericsson produce cell phones together, mainly making mid- and high-range handsets, In recent years sales have suffered. It has profits have been around $300 million on around $4. 5 billion in sales Sony and KDDI developed a Walkman brand cell phone that downloads music Sony: How did the former gadget king lose its mojo?
Before the iPod, everyone’s headphones were plugged into the Sony Walkman. But as the Walkman lost its relevance, Sony seemed to, as well posted on April 2, 2012, at 6:25 AM Sony has faded since its classic ’80s-era Walkman went out of style, but a new CEO is trying to change that. Photo: DK Limited/CORBIS Like Xerox, Kleenex, and Google, Sony’s Walkman was the rare brand that was so popular it became the thing itself. The Japanese electronics giant was ubiquitous in other ways, too, and there was a time when it seemed as if everyone owned a Sony device, whether it was a television, a camcorder, or a stereo.
But in the iPad age, Sony seems to have all but disappeared from the marketplace for must-have gadgets. What happened? And how can its new CEO, Kazuo Hirai, turn the company around? Here, a guide to Sony’s woes: How badly is Sony struggling? It’s not pretty. The company is set to post a loss of $2. 7 billion for the current fiscal year. It was worth $100 billion in 2000, but since then has lost 80 percent of its value. And it’s even struggling in its native Japan, where Apple for the first time was just voted the country’s top consumer brand. Where did Sony go wrong?
Sony is an enormous company, and its movie unit (which produced the Spiderman movies) and music business (which distributes Adele and Taylor Swift) post profits. In fact, its biggest moneymaker is Sony Life, an insurance company. The problem is lackluster gadgets. Consumer electronics still account for half of Sony’s sales, and the company’s once-unrivaled television division, for example, “is drowning in red ink,” says Matt Burns at TechCrunch. Why can’t it make another Walkman? Sony’s “gift for innovation” came more easily when the company was “young and streamlined, not sprawling,” says Chico Harlan at The Washington Post.
Sony has become an “unwieldy multiheaded beast,” says Burns, and is simply less focused on product development. Furthermore, Sony is reluctant to take the draconian steps — firing workers, for example — that are often necessary to make companies more nimble. Like other struggling Japanese companies, Sony still adheres “to cultural expectations of lifetime employment,” says Harlan. What is Sony’s new CEO planning to do? Hirai, who took the helm on April 1, is proposing a new business structure called “Sony One,” which will see the company focus on gaming, mobile devices, and digital imaging.
For a company that missed out “completely on the iPod era of portable music devices,” it’s hoping to “make up for lost time” with a big splash in the smartphone industry, says Devindra Hardawar at VentureBeat. Gaming is still a “cash cow” for Sony, and its digital cameras are “better” than most, so the Sony One plan seems solid. Can it make a comeback? Hirai says he’s willing to take the “painful” steps it will take, says Cliff Edwards at Bloomberg Businessweek, including cutting costs. But Sony will also have to do a better job of wedding its gadgets with the vast music and movie content at its disposal.
Sony’s “engineers were slow to weave it all together, as Apple did seamlessly with its iPod and iTunes,” says Harlan. It’s an ironic twist of fate for the reigning company “Apple and Steve Jobs were aiming to dethrone 15 years ago,” says Burns. Sony’s Walkman Disappears With a Whimper Few tears were shed as Sony announced plans to shelve most editions of its once ubiquitous Walkman cassette player. The now-unwieldy device, which debuted in 1979, was credited with beginning the portable music player craze and ushering the transition of music fans “from listeners into users. But many columnists, instead of penning fond farewells to the iPod’s ancestor, are bidding the device good riddance, asking why it wasn’t discontinued “years ago. ” Still, there were a more than a few who waxed nostalgic about those tinny headphones blaring their favorite ’80s tunes. A Very Subdued Goodbye for the Device The Wall Street Journal’s Daisuke Wakabayashi wonders how the iconic device managed to disappear so inconspicuously, especially in Japan. “Perhaps there was no raucous send-off in Japan, because the Walkman has come to symbolize, fairly or unfairly, how Sony relinquished its portable music player lead to Apple Inc. s iPod on its ways to taking a backseat to Steve Job’s seemingly endless string of hits…. To be sure, most consumer electronics products disappear with barely a whimper…. However, one can not help but think the Walkman and its incredible success deserved more than a gadget’s equivalent of a gold watch and a pat on the back. ” ‘The Best Symbol of the Demise of Sony’ Douglas A. McIntyre at 24/7 Wall Street pens a eulogy for the Walkman and, in turn, Sony. “There will be many histories of Sony written and most will question why the company was not more aggressive to court music companies and create its own iTunes store. Unfortunately, McIntyre argues, “Its digital version of the Walkman came to market too late…. The burial of the Walkman signals the death of Sony’s own ambitions in the portable multimedia device industry. It will be a case study at business schools for decades to teach how a company can lose a market it has dominated. ” It Used to Be Amazing, Today It’s ‘Kind of a Joke’ Talking Points Memo editor Josh Marshall briefly recalls 1979. “It wasn’t just that the device was small, though it was — not that much bigger than the size of a cassette itself.
It was that the headphones were so small and managed to provide — right up against your ear — a surprising degree of audio fidelity. Remember, holding a boombox up on your shoulder wasn’t just an affectation. It was the only real way to listen to music on the go. ” We Wouldn’t Have the iPod Without It After making the requisite quips about the Walkman (“at least it outlived disco”) CNet’s Greg Sandoval notes that the devices designers “likely influenced” the eventual concept of the iPod. “[Steve] Jobs took portable music to a new level, one where even [Sony] couldn’t compete.
Jobs wrapped his offering around a cohesive and as yet unbeatable combination of hardware, software, and digital retail. Sony knew hardware but was at best so-so in retail and a total disaster at developing software (see Sony Connect). Some have speculated that Sony’s failure to keep up in a segment that the company created was one of the reasons it has given the Walkman such a quiet send off. ” ‘Enough Nostalgia. Let’s Recall the Bad Times. ‘ NPR’s Jacob Ganz remembers the music players with little fondness. Walkman was all about smaller and cheaper: headphones were light, but breakable. You could hear your music on the go; so could everyone else, since the speakers in the headphones were so bad that you had to crank the volume. ” It also had the interesting effect of turning “music into a drug, boiled down into capsules that were lower in purity but easier to acquire and manipulate. The device itself may have been too rigid and flawed to survive changing times, but the Walkman changed us from listeners into users. ” 30 facts from 30 years of the Sony Walkman
The first Walkman was launched 30 years ago today Related stories Three decades ago today, Sony launched the Walkman in Japan. It changed how and where we listened to music and its legacy and name still continue today. To celebrate the anniversary of the launch, we’ve gathered together 30 facts from the last 30 years of one of tech’s biggest product icons. 1. The idea for the Walkman came from Masaru Ibuka, the founder of Sony. He was a regular user of the 1978 TC-D5 portable tape recorder, but found it too heavy.
He and Sony’s Executive Deputy President Norio Oga challenged Nobutoshi Kihara to come up with a simple, playback-only stereo version of the small Pressman tape recorder. 2. Despite initial troubles with batteries and the strangeness of a large pair of headphones teamed with a small device, Ibuka said to Sony’s Chairman Akio Morita “Don’t you think a stereo cassette player that you can listen to while walking around is a good idea? ” 3. Over 300 different Walkman models have now been produced. 4. Walkman was chosen as a name partly because of the popularity of Superman in 1979. 5.
In early 1979, Morita held a meeting in which he held up the prototype Pressman-derived device and said the product should be manufactured and would be a hit among the young. He gave the engineering team less than four months to produce the model, which needed to launch in June. 6. Due to the short time frame, members of the engineering team had to work through the night two or three times a week. 7. The first H-AIR MDR3 headphones weighed just 50 grams at a time when most headphones were 300-400 grams. They were being developed in Sony’s research labs at the time of the Walkman project. . By June 1989, a decade after the original, 50 million units had been shipped. 9. Morita ordered an initial production run of 30,000 Walkman units to be made – double the montly sales of the best-selling tape recorder. Poor initial response and sales 10. The first TPS-L2 model was shown to the press on 22 June 1979. Journalists were driven to a park, given a Walkman and were told to walk around while listening to an explanation of the Walkman in stereo. 11. However, initial press responses were very lukewarm. They believed it wouldn’t take off. 2. By the end of the first month on sale only 3,000 units had been sold. 13. Retailers weren’t keen on the product as they didn’t think they could sell something that wouldn’t record. 14. Yet, the word of the Walkman spread quickly among the young in Summer 1979. So much so that Marui Department Store placed an order for 10,000 units – even though major Japanese retail was still ignoring it. 15. The initial batch of 30,000 units sold out by the end of August and Sony had problems fulfilling orders for the rest of the year. 6. A worldwide launch was planned for six months after the Walkman’s Japanese launch, but Sony subsidiaries didn’t like the Walkman name. 17. Other proposed names were Soundabout in the US, Freestyle in Sweden and Stowaway in the UK. 18. But Morita went on a business trip and in both France and the UK people asked him when they would be able to get a Walkman. The name was already set in stone. 19. The latest Walkman line is the X-Series portable video player. A complete success 20.
To emphasise the nature of the product, the 1979 launch event was held outside with Walkman demos in the form of people roller skating or cycling while listening to the device. 21. 100 million units were shipped by 1992. 22. In 1986 the name Walkman was included in the Oxford English Dictionary. 23. Many at Sony initially felt that the Walkman should be able to record, but Morita was determined to produce a playback-only unit. 24. Again, due to the short time frame, the development team was told not to worry too much about what the original Walkman looked like. 25.
In the UK, the first Walkman in the UK came with stereo and two mini headphone jacks – even though it only had one pair of MDR-3L2 headphones. 26. Sony does not like Walkman to be pluralised in the traditional form – either as Walkmans or Walkmen. 27. The first Discman was launched as early as 1984 – the D-50 or D-5. Later models included ESP for shock protection. 28. 1992 saw the launch of the digital re-recordable, MiniDisc Walkman. 29. The Sports line of waterproof players was introduced in 1983. 30. Incredibly, Sony still manufacturers cassette-based Walkman players today.
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