Wednesday, January 25, 2006

TOKYO (AP) — The Walkman, whose original model was once Sony’s signature product, will no longer be made in Japan.

Sony Corp. said yesterday that by the end of March it will close a factory that began producing the Walkman music players in 1979 when it debuted, said Atsuo Omagari, a Sony spokesman.

Production of Walkman-brand products will be shifted to plants in Malaysia and China, he said.

The move comes as Sony cuts costs and the competition in the booming digital portable music player market intensifies, in which Sony is far behind Apple Computer Inc.’s IPod.

Sony offers five different types of music players under the Walkman brand: the original cassette-tape player, CD and MD players, a player that uses hard-disk drives and a player with a flash memory.

The factory being shuttered in Saitama Prefecture was the only plant in Japan making Walkmans, producing a Walkman model that uses a hard-disk drive, said a spokeswoman.

Japanese production of the other kinds of Walkman models already had ended, she said.

The Walkman has sold 350 million units worldwide since its creation and was once the symbol of Japan’s technical prowess.

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