Are all hournalists idiots?

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**I just read this twaddle:

http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/digital-life-news/gadget-fail-technologys-biggest-flops-20101207-18o61.html

The claim that the Sony Betamax was a failure rankled me. Sony produced
Betamax machines for *only* 27 (TWENTY SEVEN) YEARS! Yep, that's a huge
failure. Not quite as successful, nor long-lasting as VHS, but hardly a
failure.


--
Trevor Wilson
www.rageaudio.com.au



Re: Are all hournalists idiots?
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Admittedly VHS was the number 1 format in use,

AFAIK Betamax video cameras were the industry standard in broadcast
news etc up until digital came along, Also the Betamovie camera was a
good seller as it was self contained and portable (to the standards of
the day).
Due to their smaller size, Beta tapes were likely a natural choice for
portable cameras.

They certainly did a lot better than other attempts such as those
Philps N1700 machines and that "video 2000"? system where you could
use
both sides of the tape (like an audio cassette).


The thing that really surprises me is that they still sell VHS
machines in Harvey Norman, Good Guys etc.  I can remember about 1978-9
when they first seemed to come on the market in a big way, you were
looking at $1500-2000 for a VHS machine and about $20-30 odd for a
blank tape.

Re: Are all hournalists idiots?
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I think that you are getting a bit mixed up there. The cameras that were
the standard in news gathering were Betacam not Betamax. They used the
same cartridge, but the video recording method was completely different:-

"On a technical level, Betacam and Betamax are similar in that both
share the same videocassette shape, use the same oxide tape formulation
with the same coercivity, and both record linear audio tracks on the
same location of the videotape. But in the key area of video recording,
Betacam and Betamax are completely different. BetaCam tapes are
mechanically interchangeable with Betamax, but not electronically.
BetaCam moves the tape at 12 cm/s, with different recording/encoding
techniques. Betamax is a color-under system, with linear tape speeds
ranging from 4 cm/s to 1.33 cm/s."

Betamax was a technical success, but a marketing failure, Betacam was a
technical success, and in the professional sphere, marketing is a lot
less important.


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Re: Are all hournalists idiots?
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**All correct.

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**Nonsense. 27 YEARS of continuous manufacture is not a marketing failure.
Sony probably made huge profits from Betamax. Sony has, OTOH, been involved
with a number of failures during is existence. The ElcassetteT is the one
that strikes home. It was a technically brilliant system, completely (and
justifiably) ignored by the public. Sony dumped it after only 4 years.
Clearly, a marketing failure.

Saying that the Betamax was a marketing failure would be like saying the
Model T Ford was a failure, because it was dumped after only 19 years of
continuous production. The reality was somewhat more prosaic, because Ford
SHOULD have dumped the Model T long before they actually did. Sony kept the
Betamax production lines running for as long as they remained profitable.


--
Trevor Wilson
www.rageaudio.com.au



Re: Are all hournalists idiots?
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Longevity doesn't mean success, by 1980 VHS had 70% of the market, by
1988 Sony was selling VHS machines. Staggering on with a few percent of
the market is failure.

Re: Are all hournalists idiots?
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**More nonsense. Apple has/had a very small share of the personal computer
market, compared to IBM 'clones'. However, Apple's total number of computers
produced was still (and still is) a significant number of units. Enough to
ensure that Apple (computers) remains both a large and profitable company.

Let's examine your figures for a moment. VHS had 70% of the market and Sony
had (by inference) 30%. There were 7 companies who manufactured Beta
machines and another 3 or 4 that rebranded  mostly Sony machines under their
own label. Let's say that Sony manufactured around 30% of the 30%. That's
around 10% of all home video recorders were Sony manufactured machines. In
later years, that figure rose, as other manufacturers switched to VHS.

At it's peak, around 40 companies were selling their own branded VHS
machines. For 70% of the market. Many were probably re-branded JVC (or
other) machines. It is highly unlikely that any one VHS manufacturer was
actually building signifiantly more machines than Sony was building Betamax
ones. In fact, except for JVC and possibly Matsushita, Sony probably made
more Betamax machines than anyone else.

The experience taught to us by Apple (and Betamax) is that the absolute
market share is not necessarily a measure of success. It is the number of
machines produced and the profitability of those machines produced that are
a measure of success. I am not privy to the profit figures from Sony, but it
is highly likely that in TWENTY SEVEN years of continuous production of
Betamax machines, Sony made a healthy profit.


--
Trevor Wilson
www.rageaudio.com.au



Re: Are all hournalists idiots?
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As of Q3 2010 Apple was the 4th largest PC manufacturer with
10.4% market share. If you look at in the perspective that
90% of PC's are Windows based, and only 10% are Apple they
look like a failure. If you look at it in the perspective
that they are the 4th largest manufacturer, only a whisker
behind #3, then they look very good. BTW, those figures are
based on units, with HP & Dell at the top of the pile with
25% & 23% respectively, and Acer just scraping ahead of
apple on 10.5%. I reckon if the figures were based on value
rather than units, Apple would definitely be ahead of Acer,
and probably giving Dell & HP a good solid nudge.

Likewise, Sony were the main player in Betamax. While the
format only ever enjoyed a small market share, Sony had
almost all of what the format did have. And it was a premium
product with a premium price tag to match.
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Exactly - a 30% share of a product that holds 30% share of
it's category, equates to more units than having a 10% share
of a product that holds 70% share of it's category.

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And considering they weren't battling against 40 odd other
makers for market share, I'm sure the profit per unit would
be substantially higher than what most VHS manufacturers
achieved. Also, Sony realised fairly early on that they lost
the battle for the consumer market, so they focussed on
their strength - the professional market with targetted
advertising which would cost less than marketing to the
masses. This market is also more tolerant of premium pricing
than the mass consumer market, which would mean Sony could
hold a higher sell price.  Overall I would hazard a guess
that Sony made more profit out of Betamax/cam than any
individual company made out of VHS.
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--
What is the difference between a duck?

Re: Are all hournalists idiots?

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Well Betamax was a failure in the professional market IMO. As you have been
told already, Betacam was the big seller there, I bet even U-Matic was more
widely used than Betamax for *professional* use. (Without the consumer
market to cover development costs, I'm sure they would have lost money on
the professional market alone)


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Why not just include every product Sony ever made if you think there is no
difference between Betacam and Betamax? On that basis Sony has done pretty
well for itself. In any case just because Sony made a profit from Betamax (I
doubt there is any argument there) it doesn't mean Betamax was *much*
superior to VHS as you originally claimed. VHS was also a good profit maker,
and there is no correlation between quality (or performance), and profit in
any case. The one thing I will agree on though is that Betamax was not a
failure by any reasonable definition of the term.

MrT.






Re: Are all hournalists idiots?

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Yep, but he's not the first to rant on the superiority of Betamax over VHS
without knowing what they are talking about. The real differences were so
minor as to make most people yawn, and choose whatever was most available at
their local video library. As always, marketing and other factors drove
customer acceptance more than any slight technical differences.

MrT.



Re: Are all hournalists idiots?
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http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/digital-life-news/gadget-fail-technologys-biggest-flops-20101207-18o61.html
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Anyone who claims Betamax was a failure must have no idea of
it's use commercially. It never made huge inroads into the
domestic marketplace, but was the medium of choice for
broadcast & video production.

VHS was huge in the domestic market, but practically no-one
used it for anything serious as it's quality wasn't good
enough. For production work it was basically film or Betamax
for several years.

Which reminds me - I'll have to get a few blank minidiscs
while I can still get them. There's a format that goes
closer to being able to be called a failure. A decade ago MD
was huge in radio broadcasting, but has all but been
replaced by computerised systems now. It was expensive and
short-lived. But very very good at what it does.

--
What is the difference between a duck?

Re: Are all hournalists idiots?

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No argument there.

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You would be alone in thinking that. Nothing more than an expensive optical
disk with a proprietary compressed format. The concept was flawed on many
levels, and it's time had gone almost before it began. Why you would want to
buy MORE disks is the bigger question?

MrT.



Re: Are all hournalists idiots?
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As a broadcast medium it is extremely capable. The editing
ability is extremely easy to use and fast. Add the ability
to cue multiple tracks with gapless playback and it is a
very capable performer in the broadcast studio.

Even now, when the computer is king for retrieval of music /
promos etc, MD is still very useful for on-the-fly recording
& editing. It really shines in off-air callback/requests
where you can quickly cut the uhm's and aah's and swear
words etc, and have a smooth edited track ready to put to
air after the current song finishes. It can be done on
computer too, but I find MD quicker and easier.


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--
What is the difference between a duck?

Re: Are all hournalists idiots?

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In what way is it better than the standard broadcast wave format?


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Right, it can be done far better on a computer, and you are one of a very
few who prefer MD. You are welcome to use whatever obsolete methods you
prefer of course, the rest of the world has simply moved on without you it
seems.
Whilst I still have my reel to reel tape recorders, I'm not looking to buy
more tapes :-)

MrT.



Re: Are all hournalists idiots?
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AFAIK it was the first digital recordable disc medium.?  probably
rewritable too ?

I remember seeing adverts for CD burners for over $4000 at sometime in
the 1990's - no idea what the discs cost or how well they worked.

but MD was about $1000 for a portable unit ?

It was in use at a local community radio, would have to have been
during 1994-5

Re: Are all hournalists idiots?
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MO (Magneto-Optical) rewritable disks predated minidisc by several years.
They initially came in 3.5 inch (128 MB) and 5.25 inch (640 MB) sizes. They
used CAV formatting, you could see the radial "spokes" of the sector gaps on
the disc surface. They are still used, you'll usually see them attached to
an Apple computer in a graphics printing or publishing office.

Minidisc used CLV formatting, like CDs. There was even a Sony minidisc data
drive for computers (SCSI interface) with a 128 MB capacity. I have a copy
of an Australian electronics mag of the period (EA or ETI, I forget which)
with a picture of the drive on the cover and an article about MD technology.
--
Don Hills    (dmhills at attglobaldotnet)     Wellington, New Zealand
"New interface closely resembles Presentation Manager,
We've slightly trimmed the long signature. Click to see the full one.
Re: Are all hournalists idiots?
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I think CD-R may have beaten MD, but MD was the first
readily available and relatively low cost rewritable.
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At about the same time I got my MD player (about '97), we
got our first CD burner at my work, it cost about $2k
(wholesale) IIRC. It burnt at single speed and had about a
50% success rate. The computer couldn't do anything at all a
the same time - even moving the mouse ran the risk of making
a coaster. Disks had to be pre-mastered requiring a
dedicated 2nd hard drive so it could create an unfragmented
image. Basically to create 1 74min CD took a minimum of 2
hours. Add another hour and a half if you were doing it from
an analog source.

Most of the disks we burnt in those early days got thrown
out years ago because the reflective coating started
flaking.  All of my MD's from those early days are still
fully usable.
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I paid about a grand for my Sony unit that attaches to my
component hi-fi system, that would have been about '96.
About '99 I bought a Sony portable unit (playback only) for
under $200.  Being able to record to disk in real-time was
far superior to anything CDR could achieve at the time. The
drawback of course being that playback wasn't as universal.

Around '01 I had a girlfriend who'd spent a few years
teaching in Japan. Her entire music collection was MD -
apparently it was huge over there for pre-recorded music,
something that I have never seen in Australia.
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Yeah it was about '95 through community radio that I got my
first exposure to MD. They had recently migrated to MD from
cassette tape for their ads/promos/linkers etc. Soon
afterward I went to a commercial station that had MD, but
most of their existing stuff was still on carts. On boring
graveyard shifts I'd often cue up half a dozen songs to air,
then use another studio to copy stuff from Carts or LP onto
MD. The transition from Cart to MD probably had more benefit
to broadcasters than the transition from LP to CD.

These days the studios are equipped with 2 x PC's, 1 x CD &
1 x MD. Turntables, reel-to-reels and cart machines are
relegated to a back room where they are still usable, but
only to copy stuff to the computer (very rarely needed).
All the music, promo's, linkers, ads etc are on a server
based system that the computers retrieve, along with the
show schedule that can be cued up either by the program
manager externally, or by the announcer.

The CD only gets used on very rare occassions - eg a guest
artist comes in and brings a pre-release disk. The MD is
mainly used for off-air telephone stuff. The computer can be
used, but MD is simpler.

In some ways the computer has taken away some of the art of
panelling and announcing. It gives constant notification of
your time - so while you are talking away it will show how
many seconds you are over or under your hour. Gone are the
days when you find you have to talk a bit longer to fill
time, or scramble to find a song of a particular length to
fit in before the news. All the songs have normalised
volume, so your panel sliders are "set and forget'. Despite
the benefits of computers though, I notice much more dead
air on pretty much every station than I've ever heard before.

MD was (and in many ways still is) a very good format.
Unfortunately it's lifespan was reduced by the improvements
in solid state storage that allowed MP3 players to become
available. To a lesser extent, improvements in CD-R
technology also helped kill it.

Although these days solid state storage (mp3, AAC etc) is
superior as a portable format due to small size and low
power consumption, I have yet to see any solid state system,
standalone or computer based, that delivers the ease of
recording and editing that MD does. Computer based systems
are more capable, but also more complex, and take up much
more real-estate.


--
What is the difference between a duck?

Re: Are all hournalists idiots?
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That follows one of my favourite theories "the easier it becomes to do
something - the worse it seems to get done"


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Re: Are all hournalists idiots?
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I bought my first MD recorder in 1994 for$500 in Osaka. In 1996 I bought
a a kit with a recorder that went into my stereo stack together with a
portable player for $400 here in Australia. The stuff was advanced for
the time, it had optical I/O and the input was buffered so that you
could set it to start recording from a second or so before you pressed
record, it could also be set to start automatically at the start of a
track, and the tracks were namable, and could be displayed on the player.

In the mid 90s, it was the best portable music system around, it beat
the hell out of portable CD players, and even the early solid state
units. The disks were tough, you could carry them around in your pocket
without problem. I kept mine right up until the iPod Nano came out (in
fact it is still probably in the roof somewhere). The main reason that
it failed was because Sony were too greedy, the disks originally were
$20 a pop and that was just too much, you could buy the original CD for
less.

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That is as I remember it.  The protective cover (similar to a floppy
disc) was
a real winner and so was the size.

They probably were overpriced partially over the ridiculous "fears of
people copying CD's" (shock horror), particularly as Sony Music was
around at that time ?

If there had been a combination of Ebay and other manufacturers
cloning these blank discs for a few $ each, it could have been very
different story as to consumer take up.

One thing that I had always wondered was one reason for the
Playstation's enormous success because the discs could be easily
copied (well if you had access to the forums etc on methods, modchips
etc.


I think its getting that way where the CD is slowly coming to the end
of its life as a preferred consumer music storage in favour of MP3 /
PC / Ipod devices.




Re: Are all hournalists idiots?

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With the emphasis on slowly, since the first is a distribution/archival
media, and none of the others are. Only when everybody is happy to download
their music and work out their own archival arrangements will CD become
obsolete. That will need the companies to stop charging more for downloads
at least, where the customer must pay the download charges and storage media
costs as well!

MrT.






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