Hello and thanks for reading.

Technology is truly amazing, and yet truly depressing at the same time.  I remember paying more (in the late 1980's) for my Walkman than I did for my iPod Shuffle this past weekend, even though it was close to 30 years ago.  That "state of the art" Walkman pretty much played cassettes, at least until it chewed through batteries like mad, where as my Shuffle holds hundreds of songs and can last many times longer. So, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't seem like such a great deal today.....



(Michael J. Fox is seen here sporting a walkman in Back to The Future)

However, for those of you who 40 years or older, there was no way that you didn't show up for high school without toting a Walkman.  It was simply the first mobile device that everyone had to have, and reached levels of popularity that perhaps no device has seen since. Sure, iPhones are cool, but so are many of the Android devices that are equally as engaging.

My hope is that the manufacturers of wearables are reading up on their history lessons.

When I did some research, I was surprised that the success of the Walkman wasn't instant. In fact, there were a lot of concerns about this product when it first came out.  It contained a lot of features that people did not need (the first Walkman was actually designed with 2 headphone jacks, as it was supposed to be a method for people to actually share music).  After making some changes (which allowed for a slimmer and lower cost device that people actually wanted), the Walkman went onto sell tens of millions of units to earn its place in history.

So, what can wearables learn from this?

1. Take out what is not needed.

Most people do not use many of the features, such as heart rate monitoring, so it would be best to start to trim down the offerings to better reflect what the average person wants.

2. Remove some of the obstacles. 

By removing some of the unused extras, the Walkman was (somewhat) able to increase its battery life, which was one of the stumbling blocks.

3. Engage the millennials. 

Although I am sure that some of them had it, I don't remember many parents who used Walkmans. It was almost exclusively the domain of the teenage / college generation.  This is the demographic that is needed to push device sales into the stratosphere. Most people that I see wearing Fitbits were alive when Nixon was impeached, which is a shame. 

4. Keep it fresh. 

Sony did a great job in introducing new features and new technology to the Walkman line, so most times you ended up buying a new one before the old one actually died.  Apple and Samsung learned this lesson, but not sure that the Wearable vendors have.   

The Bottom Line

In retrospect, the Walkman is one of the most important inventions in the world of technology, not only for its advances in technology but also for its ability to bring technology into the mainstream of every day life.  Apple, Samsung and Microsoft owe a lot of their success to the Walkman.  One can only hope that wearable manufacturers learn their history lesson as well....