Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Why VHS Was Better

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the network-effects dept.

Technology 419

otis wildflower writes "An article in the UK's Guardian describes why, in the end, VHS is better than Betamax. While this may not be terribly useful knowledge on its own, the author then makes a pretty convincing case that viewing something's success or failure purely on technical merit is not an entirely accurate way of looking at things. For better or for worse, success of new products and technologies is determined by a broad range of factors that make up "the whole product", quality being only one, and possibly a minor one at that. Kind of explains what happened to the Atari Lynx and Jaguar, dunnit?"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

FP? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5161135)

Fp-

This FP goes out to all homies (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5161140)

especially one John Hanson 3 3 3

YOU FAIL IT! (-1)

Trolling Thunder (639121) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161218)

yuo = teh failure

YOU FAIL IT!

Not this crap again. (4, Insightful)

Space Coyote (413320) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161142)

This guy basically takes way too long to explain that BetaMax had was by far the better product, but then simply states that, despite all of its advantages, VHS is still better because it's more popular.

And he minimizes the difference in image quality between the two formats, wihch is a mistake. BetaMax's image quality was, and is, much better, both initially and especially after multiple passes.

To quote a fellow Farker on this guy: I think I'll go out and purchase a cheap but popular car.

Re:Not this crap again. (1)

buggy_throwback (259436) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161162)

I thought the guy basically said that betamax videos were too short, 1 hour, meaning that people couldn't record a movie. Still, he does go on a bit as he often does. And he has a pop at linux, but linux isn't meant to be a whole product. Since the majority of people who make it better do so without trying to make money from it, they aren't too bothered about the "whole product." Linux will just keep getting better and better until no other system can touch it...

Re:Not this crap again. (4, Insightful)

roybadami (515249) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161314)

And he has a pop at linux, but linux isn't meant to be a whole product

Well, not directly. He does say that Wintel is the best whole product, and for many classes of users it currently is. That doesn't mean we can't change that, though.

It's also interesting to apply the whole product anaysis to infrastructure services. For many services, Linux or UNIX of some flavour is clearly the best whole product. It comes with the infrastructure services you need as standard (mail servers, DNS servers, etc), and there's a huge support network of people out there using these UNIX tools in a native UNIX environment. Yes, you *can* run these tools under Wintel, but Linux/UNIX is the best whole product.

Not at all... (4, Insightful)

Jayson (2343) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161163)

He argues that Betamax was actually more popular when it began, and they had a "defacto monopoly from tape incompatabilities." The author says that the reason Betamax lost the market was that it didn't do what the consumer wanted, to be able to record an entire movie unattended due to their one hour tape versus the VHS two hour tape. He has some other arguments, such as the Betamax was originally higher priced (and was cheaper, but only after losing market too much market share to matter).

His point wasn't that you can look at a single factor (e.g., popularity), but you have to weight products more holistically.

Re:Not at all... (4, Insightful)

orthogonal (588627) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161255)

The author says that the reason Betamax lost the market was that it didn't do what the consumer wanted, to be able to record an entire movie unattended due to their one hour tape versus the VHS two hour tape. He has some other arguments, such as the Betamax was originally higher priced....

Hmmm. Makes me think of MP3s versus CDs. I listen to all of my music on MP3, despite having a (Sony, ironically enough!) 50 CD "jukebox".

Why do I sacrifice quality by listening to MP3s rather than CDs?
  • Convenience: I can easily set up arbitrarily long, arbitrarily ordered MP3 playlists, and without the time it takes for the "jukebox" to physically chnage CDs.
  • Greater selection at cheaper prices. While I do not and will not download MP3s to which I don't have a license, I can and do subscribe to emusic.com. This gives me an excellent selection of medium quality (128 kbps) MP3s, far more than I could afford as CDs -- and far more than I'd be tempted to "try out", buying CDs I might later find out didn't justify a $10-$20 price tag.
  • Portability: Carrying around a portable CD player generally resulted in my listening to a single CD, over and over, as carrying additional CDs was inconvenient (see reason #1, above) and resulted in losing numerous Cds. carrying around my Archos MP3 player gives my my entire music collection (currently about 14 GBs in MP3 format) in my pocket.
  • Quality: I can't easily hear the difference in quality between a CD and an MP3, even when the MP3 is piped through the (now empty) "jukebox"'s speakers. To the extent that I can hear the difference, I prefer to indulge my eclectic musical taste in quantity rather than fewer selections in quality. Your mileage will undoutedly vary.
Quality's important, don't misunderstand me. But let me chicken out by closing with a few choice cliches: Often the best is the enemy of the good, and enough (quality, ironically, not quantity) is as good as a feast, and more than enough is as bad as a surfeit.

Re:Not this crap again. (5, Insightful)

melonman (608440) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161187)

but then simply states that, despite all of its advantages, VHS is still better because it's more popular.

There whas a bit more to his argument than that:

VHS offered a bigger choice of hardware at lower cost, the tapes were cheaper and more easily available, there were a lot more movies to rent, and so on.

Those sound like three quite important arguments to me, unless money is no object, you like buying hardware from a de facto monopoly, hunting for media is your idea of fun and you don't actually want to watch movies, just admire the spec.

A bit further on, he points out another specific flaw in Sony's market research:

Sony got one simple decision wrong. It chose to make smaller, neater tapes that lasted for an hour, whereas the VHS manufacturers used basically the same technology with a bulkier tape that lasted two hours.

Now I don't know a lot about the details, but would it have been that hard for Sony to provide essentially the same technology with a larger box and a longer tape? As the article continues:

Their spouses/children/grandparents and everybody else would quickly have told them the truth. "We're going out tonight and I want to record a movie. That Betamax tape is useless: it isn't long enough. Get rid of it."

And that's the basis problem with the general population who decide which products succeed by their purchasing decisions: they see technology as a means to an end, not as something to admire for its intrinsic cleverness.

Re:Not this crap again. (1)

irc.goatse.cx troll (593289) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161217)

But none of those are technological reasons. It had shitty marketing, bad support, but based purely on tech merit, it was better. No one claimed it was better on any field other than technically. Basically,
Betamax:VHS::OS/2:Windows

Re:Not this crap again. (4, Insightful)

melonman (608440) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161295)

But none of those are technological reasons.

I would have thought that the storage capacity was quite an important technological criterion for a storage medium. If the technology is for home recording, and the tape it too short to record what a lot of people what to record, ie full-length films, isn't that a bit of a drawback? I have to say that I'd rather see all of a film at less than perfect quality than all but the last 20 minutes of a film at wonderful quality.

Re:Not this crap again.... Macintosh?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5161318)

"Those sound like three quite important arguments to me, unless money is no object, you like buying hardware from a de facto monopoly, hunting for media is your idea of fun and you don't actually want to watch movies, just admire the spec."

Let's subsititute the above statment's "watch movies" with "run programs"... and let's see what we get .....

"Those sound like three quite important arguments to me, unless money is no object, you like buying hardware from a de facto monopoly, hunting for software is your idea of fun and you don't actually want to run programs, just admire the spec."

Macintosh!!!!!

Re:Not this crap again. (2, Insightful)

Diamondback (111383) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161320)

"And that's the basis problem with the general population who decide which products succeed by their purchasing decisions: they see technology as a means to an end, not as something to admire for its intrinsic cleverness."

Well, I suppose that's a problem, except that technology - no matter how intrinsically clever - is useless as an 'end'. Technology is a means to an end; your mom does not care how beautiful the DeCSS algorithm is when written in three lines of Perl. That is not a bad thing. I don't care, either. Does it WORK? Quickly? Do what I want? that's much more important. Idolizing the intrinsic technological beauty of things while discounting their actual use is a grave mistake. Look a supermodels; they're 'hot' and have great tits or whatever, but do they do anything? NO.

Re:Not this crap again. (1)

Nickovsky (245391) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161341)

Those models can do more for you than you can imagine my friend ;)

Re:Not this crap again. (1)

kmellis (442405) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161359)

"...except that technology - no matter how intrinsically clever - is useless as an 'end'"
A meaning of "technology" beased upon its Greek roots might be "the meaning of the making of things". "Techne" itself can be a creative work, and "creative work" is anything made by man--including both art and functional items. Note that the tools of creation are also themselves creations. "Techne" can also be the art or craft of creation--a meaning very close to our "technology".

My point is twofold. First, that tools are as fully "techne" as the things they produce. (It is arguable that they are moreso by virtue of their inherent abstracted rationalism.) Second, that "techne" includes both art and non-art.

So why can't technology also be art? It can. And when it is, it is closest to being "an end unto itself". Whether they realize this or not, it is from this perspective that many enthusiasts of various technologies understand these technologies.

Re:Not this crap again. (1)

MoFoYa (644563) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161188)

He does explain though, that what consumers wanted was to record a whole movie unattended. VHS provided the 2 hour record time to do that.
also, he later points out that consumers were more interested in longer recording times vs. higher image quality.

Re:Not this crap again. (2, Informative)

reallocate (142797) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161198)

Did you read it? I don't recall an explanation of BetaMax's supposed superiority. In fact, the statement that it wasn't better is at the top off the piece.

He says BetaMax's supposed edge was discernible only in the lab, not by people watching a tape, and that Sony's decision to package it in one-hour lengths made it unusable for movies.

Re:Not this crap again. (4, Insightful)

nehril (115874) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161201)

I think the image quality differences are a big deal only to a very small segment. The difference between VHS's "good" and BetaMax's "great" is lost on most people. good is good enough. people will opt for lossy "compression" for the sake of more content (witness the MP3 format's success.) consider that even with vhs most people will record at whatever level gives them the longest record time, sacrificing quality.

Ask the average tivo owner what quality level they select for their seinfeld reruns. VHS won because it gave people more of less, in a way. Just like McDonalds makes money hand over fist serving "food" that would make a french chef gag. :)

What a load of crap (0, Troll)

UrGeek (577204) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161144)

I own my second S-VHS because I cannot stand the lousy quality of VHS. The point of this article is if everyone buys it, then it must be better. What a load of crap. Popular has never meant better - not if you are talking about true quality.

The majority of people are just plain STUPID.

Re:What a load of crap (2, Interesting)

reallocate (142797) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161207)

>>"... point of this article is if everyone buys it, then it must be better...

To the contrary, the point of the article is that technological quality is only one of the attributes that affect sales of a product. Price, convenience, ease of use, suitability for purpose are others. Technological advantages that can only be seen in a lab test, not subjectively by people using the product, don't carry much weight in the mass market.

doomed.

Re:What a load of crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5161252)

It reminds me of a T-Shirt:

"Eat shit - 50 billion flies can't be wrong"

Re:What a load of crap (4, Informative)

bobcox (576265) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161220)

I still use a Sony C20 Betamax which I bought brand new some, er, probably 18 years ago.

The picture quality is still embarrassingly better than our nearly new Panasonic VHS. ISTR that the Betamax has a technically superior tape path and is a sort of scaled down version of the U-Matic.

(The U-Matic was an industrial and ENG standard format some years ago and used 3/4" tape in a large cassette).

Re:What a load of crap (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161324)

Very bloody large casettes!

A U-matic 60 minute tape (as big as you can get) is about 9" wide, 1" high and 6" deep.

A small U-matic deck is 19" wide (rack mount), 5U high, and god knows how deep - about 24" I think.

We have them. They're huge, they're noisy, they're heavy, but we love them.

Help (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5161147)

I am fat and have acne.
I have no girl friend.
I use linux and eat most of the time.
Can you help me?

Re:Help (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5161190)

I'll help.

Start by slimming down. Go do some sports. Try brisk walking as a start. Eat a balanced, healthy diet. Greens are tasty if you cook and mix them right.

Acne, seek a good dermatologist's help.

You can use linux and still have a fruitful life.
Linux User (not=) No-life geek

Tip: the more effort you invest in searching for a girlfriend, the less likely you are gonna get one. Expand your social circle (join clubs etc)and let nature take its course.

Re:Help (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5161227)

Acne, seek a good dermatologist's help.

Nah, don't do that, take vitamin A & E supplements (they will come seperately packaged) - don't over do it, and DO NOT eat potato chips, biscuits and any of that other overly starchy junk "food", eat lot's of fresh greens and a small amount of meat.

survival of the fittest (5, Insightful)

Interfacer (560564) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161151)

a lot of people are confused about this phrase, thinking of 'fit' as being technical superior.

in fact the term fit does have nothing to do with that, but should be interpreted as 'fitted for a certain purpose'

for example one of the reasons that windows version whatever is so popular with computer iliterate persons is that it takes you by the hand to do a lot of things, which can be a pain for power users, but not for newbies. in that sense windows is most 'fitted' for that situation, just as linux is for power users, server systems, or as BSD on powerful stable systems with 1000's of connections at a time.

other examples are software programming where C++ can be the best solution for developing algorithms, and VB for simple DB connected user interfaces.

the 'fittest' solution survives in the place where it is used at its best. C is not 'better' than VB. it is fit for other purposes than VB.

you can only talk about 'better' when two things are designed for the exact same purpose.

Interfacer.

Re:survival of the fittest (3, Interesting)

MasonMcD (104041) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161228)

And Darwin's concept was done a great injustice by bandying about the phrase "survival of the fittest," when it should have been merely, "survival of the fit."

If you find a niche, it doesn't matter that there are successful predators out there that eat you, you merely must reproduce, faster than they can, and faster than they can eat.

In the case of the mac (which is what we're really talking about here, huh? VHS vs. Betamax! Pshaw! THoS EaR COdE WeRdZ!), Apple just has to watch Dell, HP, Compaq (oops!) et al figure out who's the Alpha Male of the dinosaur VARs, and let them gobble each other up. See http://www.mammals.org.

Re:survival of the fittest (1)

Annoyed Coward (620173) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161235)

Very nicely written. :-), though I am not convinced that the anology fits with languages (to some extent OS, yes).

VHS versus BetaGoatse! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5161152)

*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_
g_______________________________________________g_ _
o_/_____\_____________\____________/____\_______o_ _
a|_______|_____________\__________|______|______a_ _
t|_______`._____________|_________|_______:_____t_ _
s`________|_____________|________\|_______|_____s_ _
e_\_______|_/_______/__\\\___--___\\_______:____e_ _
x__\______\/____--~~__________~--__|_\_____|____x_ _
*___\______\_-~____________________~-_\____|____*_ _
g____\______\_________.--------.______\|___|____g_ _
o______\_____\______//_________(_(__>__\___|____o_ _
a_______\___.__C____)_________(_(____>__|__/____a_ _
t_______/\_|___C_____)/______\_(_____>__|_/_____t_ _
s______/_/\|___C_____)_______|__(___>___/__\____s_ _
e_____|___(____C_____)\______/__//__/_/_____\___e_ _
x_____|____\__|_____\\_________//_(__/_______|__x_ _
*____|_\____\____)___`----___--'_____________|__*_ _
g____|__\______________\_______/____________/_|_g_ _
o___|______________/____|_____|__\____________|_o_ _
a___|_____________|____/_______\__\___________|_a_ _
t___|__________/_/____|_________|__\___________|t_ _
s___|_________/_/______\__/\___/____|__________|s_ _
e__|_________/_/________|____|_______|_________|e_ _
x__|__________|_________|____|_______|_________|x_ _
*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_e_x_*_


Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account.

Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account.

Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account.

VHS might have been good, but we all know that (-1)

Trolling Thunder (639121) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161153)

It is official; Netcraft confirms: *BSD is dying

One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered *BSD community when IDC confirmed that *BSD market share has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all servers. Coming on the heels of a recent Netcraft survey which plainly states that *BSD has lost more market share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. *BSD is collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by failing dead last [samag.com] in the recent Sys Admin comprehensive networking test.

You don't need to be a Kreskin [amazingkreskin.com] to predict *BSD's future. The hand writing is on the wall: *BSD faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for *BSD because *BSD is dying. Things are looking very bad for *BSD. As many of us are already aware, *BSD continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood.

FreeBSD is the most endangered of them all, having lost 93% of its core developers. The sudden and unpleasant departures of long time FreeBSD developers Jordan Hubbard and Mike Smith only serve to underscore the point more clearly. There can no longer be any doubt: FreeBSD is dying.

Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers.

OpenBSD leader Theo states that there are 7000 users of OpenBSD. How many users of NetBSD are there? Let's see. The number of OpenBSD versus NetBSD posts on Usenet is roughly in ratio of 5 to 1. Therefore there are about 7000/5 = 1400 NetBSD users. BSD/OS posts on Usenet are about half of the volume of NetBSD posts. Therefore there are about 700 users of BSD/OS. A recent article put FreeBSD at about 80 percent of the *BSD market. Therefore there are (7000+1400+700)*4 = 36400 FreeBSD users. This is consistent with the number of FreeBSD Usenet posts.

Due to the troubles of Walnut Creek, abysmal sales and so on, FreeBSD went out of business and was taken over by BSDI who sell another troubled OS. Now BSDI is also dead, its corpse turned over to yet another charnel house.

All major surveys show that *BSD has steadily declined in market share. *BSD is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If *BSD is to survive at all it will be among OS dilettante dabblers. *BSD continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save it at this point in time. For all practical purposes, *BSD is dead.

Fact: *BSD is dying

The only convincing bit was... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5161164)

When they were released, betamax had only 1 hour tapes.. VHS had two hour tapes...

You could record a film onto VHS... which you couldn't do with beta unless you were sitting in front of it to change the tapes halfway through.

Re:The only convincing bit was... (1)

MasonMcD (104041) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161268)

And maybe this should be a warning to those companies that want to accommodate DRM into their products: you will marginalize your widget. I'm sure Jack Valenti preferred beta to VHS.

Re:The only convincing bit was... (2, Interesting)

rknop (240417) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161310)

And maybe this should be a warning to those companies that want to accommodate DRM into their products: you will marginalize your widget. I'm sure Jack Valenti preferred beta to VHS.

Jack Valenti hated them both. (cf: "Boston Strangler" comment.) If he had his way, the only place we could see movies now would be in the theaters, and it would be illegal to descrbe what we'd seen to other people. The only ones allowed to openly describe scenes from movies would be licenced reviewers (who paid an annual licencing fee, a fraction of which went to the MPAA becasue of the excessive use of their intellectual property).

good article (3, Insightful)

riaa (635920) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161168)

if i remember correctly, greedy sony refused to license the technology to anyone else, wanting all the profit for themselves. instead they got nothing.
also didnt know beta could not record a whole movie (never owned 8 trach either). what were they thinking? they must have known tv shows were 1/2 and 1 hours long, and that movies were longer. im sure they were not afraid of copyright violations, as they took the movie industry to court for 'consumer' rights an won. dont think they are so generous now that they own a record label.
these days sony is a grimy, sleazy company with very little to offer besides hype. i cant think of one product they have that someone else doesnt make better.

Re:good article (2, Informative)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161231)

They didn't exactly get nothing - their groundwork with betamax enabled them to develop their professional video systems.

I think Sony have done rather well out of U-matic, Betacam and DigiBeta.

No longer are these machines changing hands for five figure sums - well, exceptthe most expensive DigiBeta deck, the DVW-A500, which is £24,995, excluding VAT (at 17.5%).

Sure, Sony sells consumer products, but the margins are so much lower - something I'm all to aware of since I'm buying A Sony DSR-11 DVCAM deck for our Media 100i non linear edit suite. This is the cheapest of all the DVCAM decks, and it retails for £1495 excluding VAT.

This will continue (5, Interesting)

indigogorge.net (535856) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161172)

As long as some companies try to make everyone buy proprietary products, this will happen. VHS was not better than BetaMax. Sony simply did not want to share. Hence, VHS was more widely accepted because everyone could buy a VHS player, and not a very pricy BetaMax player. If you looked at minidisk 12 years ago, when CDs where starting to come out, they offered the same capacity, and so many more features. But in the End, it was cheaper for people to buy CDs, instead of buying proprietary expensive Sony only players and products. Same thing with sony memorystick. Make it an open source product, and just collect license fees, or what have you. Then everyone will use it if it is a good thing. I'm sure there are a lot more companies like this, but I just picked on Sony because it is their original product.

Re:This will continue (1)

onion_cfe (492186) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161206)

It suprises me how often people ignore the fact that Minidisc is a lossy compressed storage medium. Its not really comparable to CD audio.

Re:This will continue (1)

indigogorge.net (535856) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161274)

Actually, I do know the fact that it is a lossy comprssion. As I recall it is around a 12 bit compression scheme. I also bought a minidisc player years ago, so I could have good tunes when I jog, without the player constantly skipping. HA! The original skipped and stopped constantly. The point is, that although the quality wasn't the same, the majority of the population probably would not have known the difference because they would have played them in their car, or at work, or any number of noisy places, where ambient noise was a factor. If sony was to license the technology, I feel they could have had a much deaper market penetration in the US and other countries.

It's interesting how these basic topics on slashdot can go in any multiple tangent discussions. :)

Re:This will continue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5161333)

and it's such a shame that interesting tangents get slapped down as offtopic! GRRR! It makes me mad!

Citizens of Slashdot, if you agree, please show it in metamoderation. More interesting stuff has been lost to "offtopic" than we will ever know.

Re:This will continue (1)

belroth (103586) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161270)

From the article:
Other elements of the oft-repeated Betamax story are also wrong. For example, while Sony was certainly slow to bring in other manufacturers, it had tried to license it to rivals such as JVC before VHS was even launched.
Doesn't sound like not wanting to share to me (depending upon the terms they wanted of course) - they weren't averse to sharing the CDA format either that they developed with Philips.

I agree about memorystick, it seems superfluous when SD is around, but Mini-disc isn't quite comparable to CD as it's lossy, like MP3. Sony used to make some nice kit, these days I'm not too impressed.

A lesson the Linux worlds needs to learn (5, Insightful)

rufusdufus (450462) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161173)

The value of a product is not defined by its creators. It is defined by its market. Meaning its users and customers.

Linux is doomed to be a niche player until this fact is more widely accepted. It doesn't matter what geeks think about the product if the end user is not satisfied, overjoyed even.

As it is today, woe to any newbie who wants to jump on the linux bandwagon; all they get is name calling and static when they have real problems. The overall experience can be very unpleasant.

Re:A lesson the Linux worlds needs to learn (4, Insightful)

reallocate (142797) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161223)

True, true. I'd add that most geeks also seem to expect computer users to progress from a newbie state (Windows) to a "power user" state" Linux. In other words, they expect the customer to change rather than the product.

What they seem to fail to understand is that many, if not most computer users, aren't that interested in computers, no more than they have an abiding interest in how television works. Its "what" it enables them to do, not how it does it, that counts.

Re:A lesson the Linux worlds needs to learn (1)

indigogorge.net (535856) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161247)

I tend to agree. I myself am stuck in a Windows only world, only peering into the world of Unix, Linux, BSD, or what have you.

I have tried to get into these other operating systems, with a response from my freinds as "well, just start using it. Its not so hard." They of course started when they where 12 years old, and now I am 28. And eventually I ALWAYS ask for help, and they always never have the time. I have tried posting on slashdot, but never get responses as well for help. SO I simply abandoned the task.

I have too many other things to do than try to learn a completely new OS. Hence the Windows shackles. Ho hum.

Re:A lesson the Linux worlds needs to learn (1)

aanantha (186040) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161300)

If you want help, Slashdot is not the proper place to find it. Your coumment will very quickly be marked Offtopic. You'll have much better luck on Linux IRC channels for newbie questions and on Usenet for more advanced ones. Most often a question has been asked before so you'll want to use Google Groups to search Usenet.

That said, it's still not going to be easy. The learning curve is steep and there's very little help to be found. For most people, it's a waste of time.

I think a major reason people are willing to put up with it is because the easy to use proprietary operating systems can be impossible to troubleshoot when they fail. Everything is hidden. Given enough knowledge, you can always troubleshoot a problem in an open source UNIX. Every layer can be debugged because each layer is visible and accessible.

Re:A lesson the Linux worlds needs to learn (1)

m3573 (595099) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161312)


And eventually I ALWAYS ask for help, and they always never have the time. I have tried posting on slashdot, but never get responses as well for help.

I think the best place to look when you're stuck are mailing lists of the distribution you're using and related newsgroups. I usually find posts from people having the same problems i have, with helpful followups.

Me TOO! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5161348)

I agree. I find myself in the same situation. I've wanted to switch to linux for a long time, but I don't see it happening until it reaches the interface smoothness of windows. I don't ever want to compile the kernel or do anything technical besides boot it up and start using it.

Stupid wordplay (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5161174)

He redefines "best" as "most popular" and then concludes that VHS is the "best". Well, *duh*.

But let us not forget one thing: there was lots of pr0n on VHS format, and *THAT* and nothing else is what made VHS so popular. I guess we can conclude that pr0n makes something "best".

As for other "best" products: the PC, despite its awesome power, excellent tools, and fabulous games, still sucks conceptually. There were a great many computers that were in many ways far, far *better* than the PC, but failed to make it in a world dominated by Microsoft and IBM.

And Windows, despite obviously being the "best" (most popular), still sucks badly.

Quick summary (3, Insightful)

Espen (96293) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161175)

VHS was better because it became more popular.

Next week we will be arguing that the best music ever composed is that which has sold the most, and that the best movie is the one which has been the highest grossing.

In summary, the best approach to creating the best new and exciting products is to recycle old ones in new packaging and market the hell out of them.

Re:Quick summary (3, Interesting)

TommyAquinas (231046) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161185)

Like, say, Lindows (tm)?

"fast follower" is a highly effective marketing strategy. In the context of the article, 'best' implies market acceptance, not quality.

RB

Re:Quick summary (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5161237)

"VHS was better because it became more popular."

For all intents and purposes, this is completely true. "Better", for a commercial product, is that mix of things which causes that product to sell in larger quantities that the competition. In the marketplace, the "best" product is simply the one that sells the most. It's largely self-referential.

Technical superiority doesn't mean that the average purchaser will buy the product, because most consumers want the best deal (ie low cost, easy support, etc), even at the expense of being bang up to date on the clever bits. Technology, for most people, IS a means to an end, not an end in it's own right, and for most people this is the right attitude. Video recorders are just a tool after all, and you should use the right tool for the job. In this case, the job is recording the maximum amount of usable video at the lowest cost. Thus VHS is (or at least was) the right tool.

V2000 was a vastly superior system to either VHS OR Beta, (8 hour tapes 4 per side, no noise bars, much higher bandwidth and so on), but died commercially for several reasons, not the least of which was cost. VHS won largely because it was 'good enough', cheaper, and had better recording time than Beta. It sold in large quantites due to low cost, and had low cost because of the large quantities sold.

"In summary, the best approach to creating the best new and exciting products is to recycle old ones in new packaging and market the hell out of them. "

Sad, but in many cases true. Look at the modern music or film industry. This approach is still used because of one overriding factor, IT WORKS!

Re: Quick summary (2, Interesting)

Sighm (94030) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161315)

But why was VHS supposed to be better?


The reason why VHS has won from BetaMAX was simply because of one thing: pr0n! The pr0n industry embraced the VHS technology because the tapes were fairly cheap. Because lots of pr0n was available on VHS, people bought a VHS recorder!


Simple network effects at play here: do NOT underestimate the power of pr0n, really!


-- JaWi

moron 'doom' as IT appLIEs to the 'communications' (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5161176)

industrIE? just dial va.msn.?net? (speed dial: (VAST))?

take the test drive. join the source forgerIE, what have we left to lose?

once all the phonIE payper is filtered out of the system, the gnu millennium will begin in ernest&young again.

don't look for that to happen in yOUR LIEftimes?

does anybodIE wonder who the pennIE a minute laddIE will be? madonna madonna madonna.

just kidding, happy sb day. is lairIE ADverting during the BiG game? we know fuddles is....something.

My dad worked for Philips... (2, Interesting)

AndrewHowe (60826) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161178)

... So we had a V2000 system. Actually it was a Grundig machine. But anyway, V2000 was better than VHS/Betamax technically. It soon became pretty hard to find prerecorded tapes for it, though.

Re:My dad worked for Philips... (1)

vistic (556838) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161236)

Wasn't V2000 the format that basically looked like GIANT audio cassettes?

My aunt and uncle had a CED player (I don't think it was RCA SelectaVision though, but I could be wrong). When I worked for a market research company, we used Umax (the big cassettes that I believe Beta was based on).

It was the pr0n that killed the V2000 (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5161246)

or better yet: the absence of pr0n.

Popular mythology describes the failure of V2000 as a result of Philips prohibiting the release of porn tapes. In the eaarly days.

The failure of V2000 was a humbling experience for Philips. After that they never tried to impose their own standard on the mass consumer market.

Still, V2000 was (and is) vastly superiour to all the other systems. Double sided tapes (2x4 hrs), better picture quality, etcetera. Therefore more expensive. Which not a plus when you want to gain a foothold in a new mass market.

Re:My dad worked for Philips... (1)

samael (12612) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161259)

My family had one of those. 4 hour tapes, double sided, displayed the current position in hours and minutes.

Pretty sweet. Shame they never caught on.

Re:My dad worked for Philips... (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161265)

My grandad had a V2000 machine. It's still sitting next to the TV in his living room along with all the original tapes he bought at the time. Obviously, he hasn't been able to find many places that sell new blank tapes.

The biggest benefit was being able to record three hours per side on a tape that was the same size (or nearly) as a VHS tape.

Re:My dad worked for Philips... (2, Interesting)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161290)

I had a V2000 recorder and loved it. Brilliant quality and the tapes could be flipped over and recorded on the other side like audio cassettes. IIRC you got 2x4 hours on one tape. Also, the players were quite easy to operate by non-techies.

The refusal of Philips to allow the release of pr0n on V2000 may have contributed to its demise, but I think it was more due to the idiotic Philips marketing department. Philips V2000 entered the consumer market quite late and was still priced at "early adopter" prices when VHS and Betamax prices were already coming down. Why? Because Philips, in all their wisdom, decided that consumers weren't interested in recording video. Why would anyone want to record TV shows? Instead, they aimed their marketing primarily at companies and schools and such, and priced the units accordingly.

He's right... He's wrong... (4, Interesting)

Jayson (2343) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161179)

He says that geeks don't understand about the total package and that technical ability isn't the only thing. He's right in that is what geeks say. However, geeks do realize this, but they just don't know it.

From an example taken from The Other Site [kuro5hin.org] in the last day: programming languages. People will willingly use broken languages, not as superior, because they interface to more things, can be applied to more general purpose situations (even when they shouldn't be), or have bigger libraries. You only need to look to Perl and C.

Perl is an attrocious language judging on purely technical merits, however CPAN and all the sugar it has are what give people reason to use it. You will often hear the C or Perl apologist say, "it does what I need good enough" or "I get work done in it." This is almost the same decision calculous that the author is expousing: people chose VHS because it did what they needed (recording a two hour movie unattended) and it did it well enough (they couldn't tell the difference in image quality).

Re:He's right... He's wrong... (1)

ek_adam (442283) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161279)

mySQL doesn't even have subselects, but it's open source & cheaper so we'll use it instead of Oracle. Granted the difference in price between Oracle & mySQL is div0 greater than the price difference between Beta & VHS, but some of the same logic applies.

Re:He's right... He's wrong... (2, Informative)

belroth (103586) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161286)

You will often hear the C or Perl apologist say, "it does what I need good enough" or "I get work done in it."
I would think that would please Larry Wall- his object seems to have been to create a usable tool, not a CS project.
Perl seems to be a wonderful example of reality - rather than trying for technically superiority it aims for utility. I'm no great perl hacker, I just dabble occasionally to get something done and it suits that purpose very well.

Re:He's right... He's wrong... (1)

kmellis (442405) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161319)

"You will often hear the C or Perl apologist say, 'it does what I need good enough' or 'I get work done in it.'"
Yes, but even in this context there's a vocal minority of programmers that loudly advocate a language (and denigrate others) based upon its intrinsic technical merit.

I think that this fact that you point out--that programmers (who form a subset of the tech geeks that are picky about what they consider superior technology) also display this pragmatic evaluation of a technology (in this example, computer languages) as opposed to the techno-esthete oriented appraisal--and my point that a further subset of them do the opposite, together indicate what's really going on. And that is whether or not one has the luxury of chosing the aesthetic point of view over the pragmatic. For most people, most of the time, technology is a means to an end, not an end itself. It doesn't matter if it's ugly on its own terms (and its own terms would be its technical "beauty"), if in most other ways it's superior. However, if the tool's use is sufficiently restricted as to make most of those other factors irrelevant, then the tool's beauty becomes quite important to those so inclined to appreciate it. Often in technology, a tool's beauty is directly associated with it being engineered to do one particular restricted thing very well. So for those using such a tool in this restricted fashion (what it was deeply designed to do, not what it merely can do), form and function merge into technical perfection. The problem here is that the people that fall in love with their tools in this situation tend to forget that outside that narrow context, its value is diminished.

For me, these two viewpoints are not opposed. Given what I just wrote, it is probably clear that "best" to me is dependent upon whatever set of criteria that I think are relevant to a specific evaluation. To continue your example, in the realm of scripted languages I find both Perl and Ruby to be "beautiful". Perl because it seems beautiful to me in Wall's relentless pragmatism; and Ruby for its clean abstraction. In general, I'd use Perl because in the land of pragmatism, Perl is king (even if it's one-eyed and four-armed). But, given the right project, I'd prefer Ruby.

real cameras (1)

lobsterturd (620980) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161180)

Have you seen real TV cameras? Usually they say "Digital Beta". I've never seen "DVHSC" or "SVHSC" on professional camcorders used by TV crew

Re:real cameras (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5161238)

Betacam is not the same as Betamax. It was a totally different technology, as is digital. So the "Beta" thing is nothing but brand naming.

The reason why you don't see "DVHSC" is because there is no such thing. There was a S-VHS-C format, but it was for consumers, and is obsolete now. There was a competitor to Betacam; it was called M-II. So Betacam vs. M-II was roughly analogous to Betamax vs. VHS. Both formats were made for ENG use more than quality. The hands-down quality winner in the analog age was the 1" open-reel tape format, which used direct color recording. Betamax, VHS and U-Matic (a predecessor to Betamax, using 3/4" tape cassettes) used an encoding technique called "color under", which was technically inferior to direct color.

Re:real cameras (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161297)

Wow, I'd forgotten about M-II.

The ITV series The Bill was shot on M-II and then all the tapes were copied to Betacam SP before editing. I have no idea why they didn't shoot on Beta SP.

Oh, and for the record - don't snigger - we still master to U-matic SP from a Media 100i edit suite. Yes, we are buying a DVCAM deck to go with our camera, but one thing at a time!

We slung the rest of the U-matic suite into a cupboard to make more space. No more video mixer, separate edit controller, three giant U-Matic decks heating up the room during edits. *sigh* I did shed a little tear, I cut my teeth on that linear system, but it's just blown away by a Media 100i system that cost us £20,000 - less than the cost of just the BVU-950P edit VTR when it was new.

Re:real cameras (2, Informative)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161264)

Well, actually, they do.

Pannasonic's professional video system is called DVC-Pro, and it is rather good. It uses the same size tapes as Sony's Pro format - DVCAM so there are machines that will play back both formats, but woe betide you try to mix them since they're not really compatible for reasons I won't get into here.

Sony has another professional format, the Betacam series, and this is the most widespread at the moment because a) Sony cornered the pro market a very long time ago with U-matic (3/4"), which while not compatible with Betacam, was very good for its time so TV companies and editing houses bought back into Sony when Betacam was released.

b) Betacam started as an analogue technology with Betacam Pro and Betacam SP and Sony evolved it into it's current incarnation, Digital Betacam. The important thing is that Betacam SP is compatible with the Digital version if you have one of Sony's editing recorders so you don't have to throw out all of your analogue cameras and VTRs, which cost tens of thousands of pounds/dollars/money to buy.

DVCAM is becoming more popular in non-linear systems because it's cheaper than DigiBeta and Sony's pro DVCAM decks will play and record consumer DV and MiniDV tapes, although obviously the quality is lower than DVCAM.

Err, back to the topic now..

Re:real cameras (2, Informative)

m3djack (613125) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161288)

Don't forget about Betacam SX, which was the basis for the new line they're pushing: MPEG IMX. MPEG IMX is supposed to play older Betacam formats as well as this new digital format, part of an initiative to bring the broadcast industry into an all digital environment.

No, MPEG IMX doesn't sit above Digi Beta, but it is an important format. ... right, back to the topic though ;)

Re:real cameras (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161308)

Ah yes, hence the Sony J-3, which plays all 1/2" pro formats, including Beta SX.

If we'd have had more money we probably would have gone down that road. As it is, we started anew on DVCAM, from shooting to editing and hopefully, when we get round to buying the DSR-11, mastering.

If you build it they will come (3, Insightful)

ageOfWWIV (641164) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161195)

A great deal of this article spends its time talking about the "whole product" and applying it to everything from software to cars.

He says when consumers buy a technologically inferior product, they are really buying the ability to chooseand buying product support/longevity

Really? I thought the success of competing standards has always been based on two things: clout and marketing, not technical specifications. Your average consumer will choose brand X not because they've carefully weighed the benefits of it over brand Y but because they saw a really funny ad on superbowl sunday about it. Don't overestimate the average joe since what he will always buy into, is the hype.
___

Missed one. (1)

grub (11606) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161199)


Kind of explains what happened to the Atari Lynx and Jaguar, dunnit?

Atari Lynx, Jaguar and *BSD you mean. Netcraft doesn't even have Lynx and Jaguar on the radar!

Memory Stick Should Go the Way of Beta (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5161200)

Off-topic I know but I need to get this off my chest. I'd love to get some of the Sony Digital stuff but I dislike memory stick. 128M is just not enough capacity and Sony is not keeping up with its competitors. Also, it's more expensive for the same capacity and not many people make it. My guess is that it probably isn't tops either in the write speed area. After Beta, Sony should learn how to recognise a loser technology earlier and dump it. Am I the only one bypassing Sony equipment because Memory Stick?

Re:Memory Stick Should Go the Way of Beta (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5161291)

No.

Re:Memory Stick Should Go the Way of Beta (1)

m3djack (613125) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161293)

Sony recently announced high capacity memory sticks. In 256MB, 512MB, and 1GB flavours. Of course, the 1GB costs $880.. but at least the capacity is getting there. Granted, I wish it weren't so proprietary. Only reason I use it is for my Sony Clié :\

Re:Memory Stick Should Go the Way of Beta (1)

jgennick (59014) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161337)

You aren't the only one. The memory stick, IMHO, is a bad idea. All Sony did was to add yet another memory card into the game. And for what? Because of the "not invented here" syndrome?

I try to keep all my devices on the same memory standard. The last thing I want is to have to buy and keep around two or three different types of memory cards. At the moment, if it doesn't support Compact Flash, I try to buy something else that does.

Someday I'll probably be forced to change. Compaq, I notice, doesn't support Compact Flash in their iPaqs.

In other news... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5161202)

...tapes are better than 8-tracks.

Wait a minute, doesn't the top of every page say "Stuff that matters."?

Re:In other news... (1)

idiotnot (302133) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161242)

Except that a continuous loop tape has an inherently longer lifecycle than a cassette.

This is why a variant of the 8-track, the audio cart, is still a staple of radio stations. We've got some that have probably been in use (the tape part itself) for twenty years, and some with audio on them that have been used pretty much everyday for about seven.

Re:In other news... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5161278)

That's incorrect. Continuous loop tapes do not last longer, quite the opposite in fact! To get back into the loop, the tape has to fold, and that folding action causes oxide to flake off, causing the audio to degrade rapidly.

The reason why they use continuous loop carts in broadcasting is because they re-cue themselves automatically, and are ready for re-use right away. Forgetting to rewind a tape means dead air, which is a cardinal sin in broadcasting! Carts help prevent that.

Its not just the technical (4, Interesting)

locarecords.com (601843) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161208)

I think this is an important point when creating technical projects - it is not just the technical specifications that sell a product (well for non-slashdot readers anyway ;-)


I don't know if anyone has come across the writer Bruno Latour but he argues convincingly that we need a more complex understanding of the way technology projects are started, run and completed in order to understand why certain technical decisions are made. Afterall there can be cost constraints, efficiency constraints, material constraints, management constraints, organisational constraints (ie we don't do it like that here) and so on and on.


The phrase heterogeneous engineering is a great term that refers to the way technical people have to engineer not just, say, the software, but also the managers, other people, organisational lethagy and so on just to get the thing out of the drawing room (let alone the door).


I remember working for a very prestigious and large media company who could not see the value of the Internet whatso ever. No matter how much I banged on about it. In the end I left as it was clear the managers and company were still living in the land of VAX/VMS... Shit they were *still* worrying about X25!


But it is interesting how we as engineers have to have the social skills as well as technical skills in order to move a project forward... and that can be much harder than the technical!

About Time! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5161210)

The Betamax vs. VHS myth has been a favorite straw man argument of Mac-heads for a long time. It's nice to see that someone with a column has exposed this myth.

The "killer app" for the VCR was the movie, and Betamax was unable to run it. Betamax was a closed, proprietary platform that lost out to superior open standards. Beta's only claim to superiority was a couple more lines of horizontal resolution. But it wasn't a difference that you could actually perceive, like the difference between a 2.2GHz machine and a 2.4GHz one. And by 1985, that lead was gone.

Re:About Time! (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161281)

The VHS standard isn't open any more than Betamax's is - you still have to pay royalties to use it and you can't change it.

So if I released a VHS recording deck that ran the tape at twice the speed to half the time but increase the quality, or I added a feature that allowed the drum to be adjusted to either shorten or lengthen the path of the heads on the tape to adjust quality then I'd be in violation of the VHS standard, and JVC would be on my ass.

Sony, rightly or wrongly in the "nice" stakes, kept Betamax to itself, and experimented with all these things and more and evolved Betamax into something much better than it was. They then sold it to the professional community for $5,000+ per VCR

Re:About Time! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5161317)

You're thinking of BetaCAM. Similar brand name, totally different technology.

Yes, VHS was an open standard. Anybody who wanted to subscribe could, and non-standard additions like LP mode, Hi-Fi audio, different head configurations and S-VHS were permitted. In contrast, Sony did something similar to Apple's treatment of the Mac clone market.

Tomorrow on Slashdot (5, Funny)

SlashdotLemming (640272) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161225)

Why Iron was better than Bronze

Better (1)

uspsguy (541171) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161230)

I guess it really boils down to how you define better (thank you, Bill Clinton). Beta had much better quality, VHS had better length. As usual, the public went for quick and dirty

The article misses the point entirely (1)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161232)

The whole significance of "Betamax vs. VHS" and why it's remembered is because it shows that a technically superior product won't always be the most popular. Without this point there is no significance of the events, all the author does is restate what's been said a thousand times. This is a terrible article.

Re:The article misses the point entirely (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5161263)


I was just thinking about this and this idea spang up. Actually, technically superior wins out in the end, although not necessarily in the same form. A 20 year battle of technologies is minute in comparison to eons.

Random VHS fact! (5, Informative)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161239)

Ever wonder what VHS stands for?
It stands for Vertical Helix Scan

now you know and knowing is half the battle...

No! You're Kidding, Right? (3, Interesting)

kmellis (442405) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161240)

"...the author then makes a pretty convincing case that viewing something's success or failure purely on technical merit is not an entirely accurate way of looking at things."
This just makes me laugh and laugh and laugh. I mean, to the larger portion of the educated population, this is so obvious as to be not even worth mentioning.

To a portion of the population--strongly represented here in Slashdot and probably among whom there's an elevated rate of Asperger's Syndrome--this must surely seem heretical.

I recall a time a few years ago when a fellow software "engineer" tried to express to me his irritation that multinational executives still flew around all over the world to have face-to-face meetings when teleconferencing VR rigs would be cheaper. I said, well, maybe it's the big, ugly, uncomfortable headgear that puts those executives off of such a cool technology. Among other things. "It just doesn't make sense", he replied.

No, I guess it doesn't make sense to people like that. Every time a clearly superior technology doesn't succeed in the market place, it must be the result of insidious forces acting in conspiracy to thwart the will of the smart and rational people. They say. "Linux is clearly the superior operating system. When will people wake up and realize that?" When, indeed? Maybe when it is?

The "Single Flaw" Theory (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5161244)

A "Single Flaw", like having tapes that only last one hour, can doom an entire product.

No matter how well thought-out/designed/engineered everything else about the product may be.

All in the past (1)

LinuxPunk (641305) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161248)

Seriously though, who really cares which technology *was* better? that is all in the past... We should be concentrating on the present and future technologies, such as DVD and possible other digital record/playback media.

BTW, Beta *was* better tho...

Consumers define Quality. (3, Insightful)

AftanGustur (7715) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161269)


For better or for worse, success of new products and technologies is determined by a broad range of factors that make up "the whole product", quality being only one, and possibly a minor one at that.

A very important point is that "quality" of a product is not defined by the producer but by the consommator.

This also means that what one consumer is ready to pay 100 euros for, another won't buy it for more than 80, and others not at all (latest edition of Italian-Spanish dictionary f.ex.)

What happened with Beta/VHS was that the VHS specs were made available to various constructors who competed between themselves to produce cheaper units.

Cheaper price was simply "higher quality" factor to consumers that beeing able to record on both sides of the casette. (and other features).

It is therefore just silly to say that "Quality" is a minor factor in a product's success. (Unless some monopoly company had f.ex. made deals to pre-install a VHS unit in all televisions manufactured)

You sure about that? (3, Insightful)

forty_two (147348) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161271)

Let's take a simple example: digital audio tape (Dat). Get someone to compare Dat with a humble C90 compact cassette and they will find Dat to be technologically superior, especially for recording music. However, if you consider "the whole product", Dat is vastly inferior for most people most of the time. This is why people still buy millions of cassettes, while Dat has virtually disappeared from consumer use.

Er...I thought the RIAA effectively taxed DAT out of the reach of consumers? Dat is only inferior because it's so damn expensive.

Re:You sure about that? (2, Flamebait)

Meowing (241289) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161355)

DAT wasn't all that expensive. Consumer versions of it (and other digital tape and disc formats of the time) were all hobbled by SCMS. This is a lot of what prompted the *AA to lobby for mandatory copy protection; given a choice, the marketplace shunned it.

V2000 (1)

adelayde (185757) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161285)

Ahem, V2000 was better than both of them :)

One important thing... (1)

inode_buddha (576844) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161301)

about VHS and BetaMax in this day and age which I think the author missed, is that there doesn't seem to be any discussion of DRM surrounding these technologies, being essentially analog formats. For myself, VHS is the way to go, simply because it's cheap and available everywhere, with few or no restrictions for personal use. And yes, I remember when *both* of them were invented; this was at about the same time that Xerox copiers began to show up in public. You should have heard the content creators screaming about piracy.

Re:One important thing... (1)

Meowing (241289) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161340)

The DMCA does require new VCRs to use Macrovision. This isn't digital rights manglement, but it's still a pain in the ass.

VHS better than DVD (3, Insightful)

primus_sucks (565583) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161311)

VHS tapes don't get scratched and skip like DVD's. You can fast forward through copyright notices at will.

V2000 (4, Interesting)

grundie (220908) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161325)

To hell with Betamax and VHS. Philips V2000 format was better than the both of them. It had double sided tapes, supeior picture quality, embedded timecode and really long tapes. It was years ahead of both Betamax and VHS. I'm surprised the author of the article didn't llok in to V2000 as it was quite popular in Britain for a while, before losing the marketing battle.

As to the comparisons between VHS and Beta, I think the author makes a big blunder about VHS's success. I recall a TV interview with Alan Sugar, the founder of Amstrad which is a UK stack em high, sell em cheap electronics manufacturer. In the interview he said that his decision to make VHS machines in the early 80's was down to the fact that JVC offered him much more attractive licensing terms to use VHS as opposed to Sony who wanted twice as much for the Betamax system. Although market forces may have had an effect, surely VHS's success was more to do with the bigger profit margins it made for the manufacturers? Thus causing VHS to be promoted more at the expense of Betamax.

The NFL and Betacam SX (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5161328)

If Betamax was supposedly so bad, then why is the NFL currently standardizing [digitalproducer.com] on a derivative of the format? Betamax is alive and kicking and making a ton of money. It'd sure be nice if folks who write garbage like the article in The Guardian would at least try to research the info first.

Argh (2, Insightful)

5lash (589953) | more than 11 years ago | (#5161334)

Too many technically superior standards aren't popular. Ogg Vs Mp3, Jabber Vs MSN/AIM. Not nearly enough people use IRC. Anyone care to list more?...
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?