March 2013 will mark the official end of the MiniDisc as a format. Sony plans to discontinue production of all MiniDisc hardware after 11 years and selling 27 million players - 22 million 'Walkman' branded portables and 5 million 'MiniDisc Stereo Systems'. Production of the portables ended in 2011, having long-since been replaced by the modern MP3 players and the iPod/iPad/iPhone juggernaut. The current announcement covers all other MiniDisc-related hardware. Sales of MiniDisc cartridges will continue 'for the next few years'.
The Minidisc promised to be a portable, durable, recordable alternative to the compact disc... but fell victim to the iPod and the explosion of MP3 audio and flash-based devices. Never a favorite among audiophiles due to limitations in its proprietary ATRAC compression - namely a 18,500 hz cutoff for high frequencies - the minidisc still has the ability to elicit a tinge of nostalgia. I owned a pair during that magic time, back when they were the best portable media option out there.
a MiniDisc Stereo System
A series of expensive marketing campaigns and a key role in the science-fiction movie Strange Days - in which user's memories were recorded onto the disks - did not help the format catch on in the West. Neither did slashing the price of recorders to a third of their original cost by 1998.Sony made its last portable MiniDisc player two years agosource: BBC News
So just what was so appealing about the MiniDisc? It was small. The discs came in cool colors. And you could record live directly with your playback device if it had a microphone input.source: Stereophile
From Sony's official statement... or should we call it 'understatement':
A MiniDisc cartridge contains an optical disc half the size of a CD. With consumers shifting to digital players that do not take external storage media, the firm has decided to stop offering MiniDisc players.