In the world of Consumer electronics, most products that do not live up to their marketing and advertising hype and catch on with a massive number of customers are relegate to the scrapheap with the sign in big red letters stenciled “Fail!” Forgotten and disused, they are usually utilized by a diehard legion of fans who share, for some strange reason, a kinship with the Developers and Designers (and each other) for the product.
One such product comes easily to mind in the form of the Sony Walkman, which died on Monday October 25th 2010 as the Sony Plant in Japan that made them for the past thirty one (31) years decided to call it quits, having been made obsolete by Digital MP3 players years prior.
They only kept making them because their is a legion of followers of the product, which ironically might make a comeback, as SSD (Solid State Drives), can be used in lieu of the Mylar magnetic tapes inside the cassette form factor to create what would effectively be a hard drive capable of holding way more music than even the Apple iPod and be backward compatible with traditional cassette tapes to boot.
But that is if the people from Sony are thinking along those lines, as after all, that is why the Apple MacBook Air is back, as per my blog article entitled “MacBook Air and FLASH-based Hard drives – The Quest for Instant On”. I am still hopeful for a comeback for the Sony Walkman.
As far as I am concerned, Apple’s iPod and its wayward siblings the Apple iPod Touch, Apple iPod Nano and the Apple iPod Shuffle were nowhere near as popular as the Sony Walkman, a product which died of old age as opposed to being victim of a “one more thing” refresh by Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
I must admit, I too, that I am still and will always be an aficionado of the Sony Walkman, my cassette collection gathering dust, music from a bygone era (the 60’s to the 80’s) that I can no longer listen, hence my longing.
This may be the reason why the products in the title above are now making a comeback, despite having initially “failed”; support and lobbying of a strong fan base, albeit niche market, that fell in love with the product even after technology revolutions left it in the dust by the wayside.
I say “failed” in quotes, as by right, all the above products were selling briskly at the time of their debut. But their makers saw them as failures for various reasons, mainly driven by the rate of adoption for the device as in the case of the Microsoft Kin, the Sony Dash Personal Internet Viewer (another Sony product!) and the Google Nexus One.
In the case of the Google Chrome OS, it got killed off by the Apple iPad, as this Open Source was originally intended to be used for Netbooks, now soon to become obsolete thanks to both the Apple iPad and the Apple MacBook Air, both devices that, ironically, use SSD’s. Notice a trend people: technology can also kill off product in the fickle American market, a concept that will be oft repeated in my analytical report.
To the average Jamaican, from it come from “farei’n” and it is sturdy, they are ok with it, but American are a picky, choosy lot and as such the reason why products “fail” is the business of prognosticators and fortune tellers who work on Wall Street, as stock prices of the Fortune 500 companies rise and tumble based on the reports of such product “failures”.
Folks may I make the introductions; Electronics, meet Economics and Sociology [shaking hands] as these products and their comeback stand as sure proof of a loophole in Sir Charles Darwin concept of Survival of the Fittest in his controversial Theory of Evolution! My products of choice for 2010 that apparently “failed” yet have unpredictably have come back from the dead are the Microsoft Kin, Sony Dash, Chrome OS and Google Nexus One – each of which I will be detailing in a series of articles exploring this otherwise unknown phenomenon.
So folks there you have it, my four in one (4-in-1) special on four (4) products that flopped this year, but are on the comeback trail between August 2010 and November 2010, just in time for Christmas, despite disappointing initial appearances on the technology scene earlier on in 2010. It also gives credence to the fact that products can have a second life, thanks to dedicated fans of the product, design changes and technology shifts.
My solemn prayer, though, is that the now manufacture discontinued Sony Walkman could also be reincarnated in 2011 as SSD’s seem to be the common thread in all of the above “Lazarus come forth” product revivals chronicled thus far, a rarity in the Consumer Electronics world.