Sony has taken the decision to stop manufacturing the MiniDisc Walkman, a product which first appeared on the market back in 1992. A report by Nikkei on Friday said that shipments would cease this September. Demand for the MiniDisc player has fallen off to such an extent that Sony has finally decided the time is right to send the player off to the great gadget store in the sky.
There was once a time, in the early 1990s, when owning a MiniDisc player was the epitome of cool. You could put a whole album (up to 74 minutes long) onto a disc just 6.4cm in diameter. Suddenly the massively popular Walkman cassette player (which, incidentally, ceased to be sold in Japan from last year), as well as the larger portable CD player, had a serious rival to contend with.
However, the storm clouds began to gather around the MiniDisc Walkman around ten years ago with the introduction of the iPod and a slew of other digital media players that sported internal memory, suddenly making the MiniDisc player look like a rather cumbersome piece of kit in comparison. It was no longer cool to be seen fumbling about in a bag looking for badly labeled discs.
According to Nikkei’s report, up until a couple of months ago the MiniDisc Walkman had sold around 22 million units. Add to that sales of similar MiniDisc devices by other companies and it’s fair to say this was a product of some significance, though it fell well short of the popularity enjoyed by its predecessor, the portable cassette player.
Sony will, for the time being at least, continue to make discs for MiniDisc players, together with stereos that can play the discs, so anyone with a sizable collection of the things won’t need to consign them to the trash can just yet.