Ladies and gentlemen, we are gathered here today to mourn the passing of the Sony MiniDisc Walkman, which was tragically murdered by its older CD-playing brother Discman, as well as co-conspirators iPod, iPhone, and, to a much, much lesser extent, Zune.
Japanese newspaper The Nikkei reports that production on the MiniDisc player will officially be discontinued in September, though Sony will still manufacture the physical discs.
The MiniDisc Walkman was, even from birth, the Discman's weird, unlikeable brother--though it was cute, in its own way. Birthed from Sony's prolific womb in 1992 and hailed as the future of music-listening, the MiniDisc Walkman played MiniDiscs, ugly gray (and, later, ugly garish) floppies that could hold up to 74 minutes of CD-quality audio. MiniDiscs were less than half the size of CDs, but they never caught on--not with musicians, not with reporters (the MiniDisc Walkman featured an onboard microphone), and not with listeners, either. When Sony released 1GB discs in 2004, it was already too late for the MiniDisc Walkman, which suffered a long, inconvenient coma of low sales and general public disinterest almost from its inception.
Though 22 million MiniDisc Walkmans have apparently been sold in the almost 20 years of its shelf life, Sony has bowed to the sad and obvious truth that no one wants to carry around an ungainly bundle of MiniDiscs in their pockets in order to listen to music. The decision also probably stemmed from the fact that no one knew that MiniDiscs (MiniDiscs!) had even been made since 1998.
This is certainly a tough day for MiniDisc Walkman enthusiasts the world over, who are probably silently weeping while listening to their MiniDiscs of "Mambo #5," watching "Hangin' with Mr. Cooper" reruns, and reminiscing about the good old Sizzlin' 90s. It was sad enough that the Cassette Walkman (Cassette!) was discontinued in October of 2010, and not a year later, the MiniDisc version will follow its brother to heaven.
Sony has said that the CD Walkman will remain in production, though with Cassette and MiniDisc biting the bullet, one must wonder how much longer the most iconic Walkman--the CD Walkman was always the Alec to the Stephen and Billy of the Cassette and the MiniDisc--will remain on the shelves.