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Feature Design WALKMAN W Series
Feature Design WALKMAN W Series

Adventures in color, from an unfettered imagination

Yamagishi: We want everyone to see what makes this model tempting. That's why we took a slightly different approach for the color options. Normally, we narrow down the most fitting color options by considering several factors how old our target users are, trends in their lifestyles, and a sense of what they value, as well as product pricing and so on. But for this model, we drew inspiration for colors by imagining the scenes where listeners would be enjoying the Walkman.

We developed six versions, including the region-specific colors.* There's a stylish model in black and subdued silver, accented with a red Walkman logo. Even if you're wearing a business suit and listening to music on the way to work, this one adds a little polish without pretension. We chose a lime green version because it complements fashionable sportswear worn when you're jogging or at the gym. Pink reflects the excitement of taking off on vacation, and it's a little out of the ordinary. Violet and orange capture the sense of exhilaration you get before going to a club or somewhere for live music. The plain white version looks good in any situation, no matter what your taste in fashion.

As fluorescent colors, the vivid pink and lime green are unusual in a Walkman player. People familiar with Sony design may be a little unsettled by this styling, but we wanted to try something a little adventurous. The sense that something unprecedented and worth a closer look has arrived. The feeling you get when you try on something new and want to show someone. The power of music to exhilarate us. These are the feelings we'd love to convey. Another consideration was that once you separate the earpieces to wear them, each piece is actually quite small. Even colors that seem bold blend in surprisingly well, so don't worry about choosing a vivid color if you like it.

*White, black, lime green, and pink are available in Japan.

A new style of listening, brought to you by design

Asai: In price, this model is closer to headphones than a portable audio player, despite the fact that we invested two years in refining the design since initial planning. It took that long because we started from nothing, with no inspiring models to learn from about listening styles in wearable audio players. Really, it felt as if we were groping in the dark in design, going around in circles. But ultimately, what helped us overcome this was the concerted effort of designers who simply can't live without music, and our commitment to writing a new chapter in how people listen to music.

Sato: We might imagine listening styles to date as sitting in front of some iconic audio player, leisurely savoring every song. That's obviously a wonderful experience, but we get the distinct impression that people are listening more casually now. And in fact, research shows that more younger listeners are satisfied just listening to the hooks or catchiest parts of songs. We thought it was time for Sony to examine and meet these needs in current listening trends.

In this way, the Walkman W series is a trailblazer. Wearable audio players are still a minor product category, but I think in this model we have rediscovered the Walkman design DNA. We turned challenges in usability into an opportunity to offer people an enjoyable new style of listening. Fewer needless features, and a more valuable user experience. I think that's a quintessential quality of Walkman players.

Komiyama: In that heart-shaped band lie my hopes for the player. We're seeing a huge shift in entertainment toward visual media. Rich video experiences are offered by more portable audio players, which boast higher performance and more features. At first glance, this makes a screenless model with extremely simple controls and features seem behind the times. But the more you use it, the more you enjoy being set free from annoying cords, and the more you appreciate the unique user interface. You get a taste of a listening experience found in no other player.

Imagine wanting to enjoy music, pure and simple, without anything in the way. Imagine a player designed with this in mind, to bring you a fresh listening experience and stir a sense of wonder. That's a fundamental ideal in the Walkman series. The heart shape of the W series band is not there just to grab your attention. It represents our heartfelt commitment to get back to these basics.

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