500 000: The total number of Walkmans sold in 1980 - the year following its launch a year earlier. 400 000 000: The total number of units the portable music amassed across the cassette, CD, MiniDisc and MP3 formats. Well, it's back and it sounds like the best of both worlds, but is it? Sony has announced the release of the android-based WALKMAN MW-A306, which combines physical storage capabilities with streaming functionality. The new Walkman is being positioned as a companion to existing platforms rather than a replacement. The gadget reportedly uses AI to ‘enhance the quality of digital music files, distortion-reducing technology and employs a reflow solder to improve sound localization’.
We practically carry entire digital libraries in our pockets, so is this enough of a sell? For audiophiles, having access to downloaded music and digital content shielded from the effects of compression & optimized to its purest form will probably sound appealing. The Walkman's promise to 'upscale' music files from streaming services and offer real-time audio playback through wireless earbuds or headphones is a sort of back to the future, win-win scenario. This re-release is also against the backdrop of the vinyl revival and a reported 28% year-on-year rise in the sales of cassette tapes.
This re-release is also against the backdrop of the vinyl revival and a reported 28% year-on-year rise in the sales of cassette tapes. This may be signaling a resurgence in demand for physical goods associated with music consumption. If the Walkman's signature cassette tape aesthetic and nostalgic effect doesn’t guarantee success, perhaps its smartphone-size, 3.6-inch HD touchscreen, 18 GBs of storage and nifty weight of 113 grams just might.