Sony Corp has ended domestic sales of its Walkman music players for cassette tapes due to flagging demand amid the spread of portable digital devices that play music downloaded online or from CDs via computer, company officials said Friday. Sony had already finished shipments of cassette Walkmans this spring, meaning the iconic product will disappear from the Japanese market after stock runs out.
Sony’s cassette Walkman player became a global hit on its launch in 1979, selling about 220 million units by the end of March this year. But its sales slumped in recent years in parallel with the company’s intense competition with Apple Inc of the United States over digital music players.
To counter Apple’s popular iPod series, Sony launched digital Walkman players that became the mainstay product in its Walkman lineup.
The company officials said Sony will continue the production of cassette Walkmans, undertaken by a Chinese manufacturer on consignment, for overseas markets.
There are no plans at present to halt the production of Walkmans for CDs or MDs although their demand is also on a downturn, according to the officials.