MD Portables give MiniDisc a second chance to catch on.
When it was unveiled in 1992, Sony's MiniDisc seemed poised to top Betamax as its most ill-starred innovation. To American audiophiles making a costly transition from vinyl to CD, the MiniDisc posed the unwelcome prospect of another shift in music formats. Sales, not surprisingly to everyone but Sony, disappointed.
But rather than hit rewind, Sony has decided it was playing the wrong marketing music. ``Many people thought we were trying to replace their CD collection,'' says Sony senior vice president Mark Viken. ``It's a portable, digital replacement for the cassette, to take music on the go and make your own compilations. We didn't explain it clearly.'' Now Sony is trying to make itself better understood. It has relaunched the Mini with a national ad campaign, hoping to spur the 10-fold increase in sales seen in last fall's test markets and help the U.S. join an expected burgeoning world market. ``The cassette and the CD didn't explode in the early years,'' Viken points out. ``in the 90's, I think we're all a little impatient.''