Sony announced last week that it was introducing a new portable music player to compete with Apple’s dominant iPod. The brand name they chose for this dramatic entry into the monstrous digital music category? Something edgy? Something hip? Something exciting? Nope. It’s just another Walkman.
While I can understand Sony’s logic here, I can’t endorse their decision. Ok, “Walkman” has many of the right characteristics for this product. It says “small, portable, music device” in a familiar and friendly way. It is certainly protectable across all borders, and it ties (at least associatively) with the Sony parent brand.
But the name also screams “1985” and “low tech”. In its effort to perpetuate a household brand by tying it to a brand new technology, Sony may have doomed its market share before they even really entered the market. Buyers in this space want a fashion statement, they want innovation, they want excitement. The Walkman brand brings none of those things to the table.