Aw, What The Hell, Here's The Micro-Walkman We've Been Developing For 20 YearsCommentary • summer music • Opinion • ISSUE 46•13 • Apr 1, 2010 By Howard Stringer, President and CEO, Sony Twenty years ago, my colleagues and I envisioned a radical new product that would revolutionize the portable stereo market. Some said it couldn't be done. Others made well-reasoned arguments as to why it shouldn't be done. But I refused to listen to those naysayers, be they industry insiders, accountants, our R&D department, my two children, or large blocs of irate Sony shareholders. And here we are today.So, ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, here it is: the Micro-Walkman. Yup. The Micro-Walkman.Fucking ta-da!This device is, without a doubt, the last word in cassette technology. That's right, I said "cassette." Pretty exciting, huh? The night before it hits the shelves, I'm sure every one of you will line up around the block of the nearest Best Buy so you can be the first among your friends to get your hands on this incredible, incredible hunk of absolute shit.To look around at the modern consumer, glued to his iPod or streaming video off the Internet with her mobile phone, the sensible thing for me to do would be to stop right now, head on back to the hotel bar, and continue drowning the last two decades of my life in scotch. But you know what? I've already sunk millions into this career-ending nightmare, so fuck it, here goes nothing:Welcome to the next generation of portable analog entertainment!Jesus Christ, I actually said that.I can assure you, there's nothing else like the Micro-Walkman. There hasn't been since about 1996, and for good goddamn reason.You all remember the Walkman, right? You know, I'll bet you even owned one back in the '80s. Well, the Micro-Walkman is almost identical to its older cousin, but about three- quarters the size and at least a decade and a half too fucking late.What? You're not either staring shocked and slack-jawed or laughing your ass off at this fat fucking idiot trying to tell you about a device so obsolete it should have been abandoned back when Cheers was still on the air? All right, I guess I'll go ahead and highlight some of its 'features' for you, then!This baby has auto-reverse functionality, a "MEGA BASS" toggle switch, a belt clip, and an anti-rolling mechanism. Who the Christ knows what an anti-rolling mechanism is? I sure as shit don't, but I can tell you we spent nine years figuring out how to make it 20 percent smaller.But what really makes this device completely freaking brilliant is its new proprietary audio format, the Mini-Tape.HAHAHAHA! Okay, here we go.Though smaller than a standard cassette, the Mini-Tape still holds a full hour of music and—thanks to two decades of effort from Sony's highly paid engineers—delivers a listening experience that eliminates almost half of the standard tape hiss.No doubt every music fan in the entire world is breathless with anticipation over this new way to experience their favorite songs by the dozen or so recording artists who so moronically committed to this excruciating project back in 1991. If the courts rule their contracts are still valid, Sony will soon be releasing Micro-Walkman-ready tunes by Kenny Loggins, Toad the Wet Sprocket, and the late Falco, among many other pop superstars, such as Shoot Me In The Head and Why Did I Waste My Life On This Sack of Crap.You'll just have to wait, because this ingenious device won't be in stores for another month. You must be so jealous to see this disgraced executive, who holds a clunky, unusable personal stereo in one hand and a pair of flimsy foam-padded headphones in the other while the warbly analog strains of Color Me Badd's "I Wanna Sex You Up" plays tinnily in the background.And you might feel further envy when you learn that this same man proclaimed in 1992 that CDs were "just a passing fad," and then, following that whole MiniDisc fiasco, concluded that people prefer tapes. But here I am, the only one daring enough to devote one-third of his life to the groundbreaking development of this unbelievably shitty and redundant medium.Should any of you still have doubts—Jesus H. Christ, why in holy fuck would you?—let me assure you there are worse things you can do than invest in a Micro-Walkman. You could, for example, invest in the 500,000 of them destined to sit forever in a warehouse outside of Guangzhou. You could stake your "career" on a collaboration with GM to put Mini-Tape decks in high-end SUVs. You could even listen halfheartedly as your lead designer attempts to explain MP3s to you in 1998 and then immediately fire him for losing sight of the project goal. At $29.99, this thing's a bargain. No? Fine. $9.99.Wanna be ahead of the curve? Buy a Micro-Walkman. Ugh.Remember, though, don't switch directly from fast-forward to rewind. We never could figure out why that always caused the goddamn thing to eat the tape.Fuck you all.