Sony retires 'Walkman' brand for its built-in music player
Once synonymous with portable music, Walkman has been one of Sony's most iconic brands. From classic cassette-based offerings of the early 1980s to the wackier, Android-based versions of 2015, the purpose of a Walkman product is clear — it's all about music on the go. So it wasn't surprising to see Walkman name used in Sony's own music app, which is preloaded on all the manufacturer's Android smartphones. Renders of new Xperia phones would give valuable screen realestate to the purple Walkman icon, and it'd also be preloaded on the default home screen.
But not anymore. As Sony unveiled its first 2015 Xperia products, the Xperia Z4 Tablet and Xperia M4 Aqua, the familiar Walkman icon and name are no more, the app having been renamed to the more generic "Music."
The new app name appears on phones running updated Lollipop-based firmware; older phones on KitKat continue to show the current Walkman-branded music app. Sony reps on the show floor at MWC confirmed that "Music" would indeed replace "Walkman" as the default Sony music player going forwards.
It's not the first time we've witnessed this kind of change from a brand once used interchangeably with portable music. Apple stopped calling its iPhone music app "iPod" back in 2011, as the rise of smartphones — including its own — made portable media playback more of a feature than a standalone product. Of course Apple still sells iPods, just as Sony will still let you drop up to $1200 on a new Walkman.
It's taken longer, relatively speaking, for Sony to move on from the Walkman brand on its smartphones and tablet, but perhaps it's inevitable given the brand's diminishing value. Let's face it, it's increasingly unlikely that anyone under the age of 30 will have feelings of nostalgia for this iconic Sony product. And arguably, as streaming services continue to dominate music on mobile devices, standalone music apps are becoming increasingly obsolete anyway. Indeed, Sony will soon be retiring its Music Unlimited service in favor of a deal with streaming giant Spotify.
And so as Sony as a whole continues to experience turbulent times, the music will go on — only without a very significant Sony brand on mobile.
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Alex was with Android Central for over a decade, producing written and video content for the site, and served as global Executive Editor from 2016 to 2022.