Demise of the Walkman Brand?
I was initially going to call this post "death of the Walkman brand" but I doubt Sony would kill the Walkman brand at this time, or any time in the near future. As most gadget lovers know, this past week was the Consumer Electronics Show 2011 and like all Walkman fans I was eagerly hoping for something brand new from Sony to replace the old X-Series. Perhaps expecting an X-Series replacement was a bit too much, but the X-Series was introduced at CES exactly 2 years ago, so it would make sense for a successor to debut here as well. Unfortunately no new Walkman debuted at CES or anything remotely related to the Walkman brand. If it wasn't a new X-Series perhaps Sony was going to introduce the new S-Series to the US as a higher end model but it appears that this model will not be sold in North America at this time. More rant after the break.
The worse part in all of this is that Sony introduced 2 brand new docks for the iPhone/iPod which permit streaming of music via WiFi to wireless speakers and to other Sony WiFi-enabled products. I understand that the iPod/iPhone are big sellers and creating accessories for these is a no brainer, but then neglecting their own Walkman brand shows Sony has little faith in their own portable audio products. Images of the 2 docks below, the NAC-SV10i and NAS-SV20i respectively. I would love to see a similar dock debut for the Walkman brand but I think I am expecting too much here. Click on the images for a larger size.
In addition to the 2 docks, 2 wireless speakers also debuted, the SA-NS300 and SA-NS400, with pricing at $200 and $300 respectively. This is not definitely not cheap but I would seriously consider the speakers if they had great sound quality. The press release has little or no information on the output of the speakers so once the release date gets closer perhaps more information will be released. Click on the images below for a larger size.
To get a nice size comparison between the speakers, you can check out the image below from AV Watch. Click on the image for a larger view.
As one can see the NS400 is twice as large as the NS300, which could possibly mean that that it might have twice the output, which is not bad considering it is only $100 more.
Apart from the speakers, it appears Sony is shifting most of its efforts onto their mobile phone division. The Xperia Arc that debuted at the show is a marvelous device but lacking OLED and probably sound quality that is no where near as good as a stand alone Walkman. I guess I am in the minority where I would carry both a cellphone and a separate dedicated mp3 player. I am hoping Sony has not cast the Walkman brand aside in favour of other products in its portfolio, but if no new X-Series debuts this year or any significant new Walkman, I doubt the brand will survive much longer in its standalone state and will probably be slowly phased out in areas where it is not popular, like North America, Europe and Asia, with only Japan being spared. Let's just hope I am wrong.