After roughly 20 years of trying to make the MiniDisc format popular, Sony reportedly announced that due to minimal demand it would stop producing Walkman players with MiniDisc support this September. Still, the company is set to continue making the MD media itself.
Sony finally pulled the plug on its Walkman cassette players in 2010 and this year it would stop producing Walkman devices featuring the MD format, according to a report from Nikkei. The actual products will be available in stores till the stocks are depleted. Given the low popularity of the MiniDisc nowadays, it is hard to predict when the players will actually become completely unavailable. Sony will keep making MDs and will also keep producing Walkman players with CD and MP3 support.
MiniDisc is an optical disc format introduced by Sony in 1992. The MD is based on an optical disc located inside cartridge that is similar to 3.5" diskette. Each MiniDisc can hold up to 80 minutes of audio or roughly 650MB of data. MDs are only compatible with appropriate equipment.
Sony's MiniDisc format has never really taken off even though it provided a number of advantages compared to cassette and CD standards. At first, it was more expensive than cassette players and its advantages over CD players were not so obvious. Eventually, cassette players shrank in size and became more compact than MD players while remaining more affordable. In the early 2000s MP3 players started to gain popularity and the advantages of MD might have over CD or cassette either disappeared or became even more ephemeral. The lack of interest towards MiniDiscs in the recent years is completely logical.
As of March, 2011, approximately 22 million of MiniDisc devices had been sold.