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Based on the referenced article, it was the two hour (VHS)
vs one hour (Betamax) advantage. The author mentions the
other criteria, but shows that they became irrelevant in
the first few years of the "home market". You are right
that the professional market went with beta because it
needed high quality audio and video. The home market
didn't; it wanted to record movies and football games.
The point is to implement the feature that will increase
returns. Sony chose badly in terms of the market it
wanted to set a standard for even if it chose a
superior technology for a smaller but higher fidelity
market. The first couple of years made the difference
and price and availability played in as time passed.
They weren't the original market sensitivity.
The market could do as you suggest and flock to SOAP
based on ease. It wouldn't be the first time. But
is it the duty of the TAG to warranty an architecture
based on ease, or should they warranty only the architecture
designed with 'safety in mind' or whatever criteria are
chosen? One should as the REST advocates have, explain
the payoffs clearly. Then and only then can one assess
the third degree risks if any.
From the referenced article: http://www.utdallas.edu/~liebowit/paths.html
"The only real technical difference between Beta and VHS was the manner in which the tape was threaded and, more importantly, the size of the cassette. A larger cassette allowed more tape to be used, and for any given speed of tape, this implied a greater recording time. For any given recording technique, slowing the tape increases recording time, but it also decreases picture quality. Because of its larger size cassette, VHS could always have an advantageous combination of picture quality and playing time. Otherwise, the differences between Beta and VHS were fairly trivial, from a technical point of view, although both of these formats were clearly superior to many of the alternatives. Memories of the differences between Beta and VHS are likely magnified by the advertising claims of each camp, the passage of time, and possibly by the fact that Beta still survives, reincarnated as a high-end videophile device.
The different choices of cassette size were based on a different perception of consumer desires: Sony believed that a paperback sized cassette, allowing easy transportability (although limiting recording time to 1 hour), was paramount to the consumer, whereas Matsushita, responding to the failure of its "Autovision" machine, believed that a 2 hour recording time, allowing the taping of complete movies, was essential.
This difference was to prove crucial. Sony, in an attempt to solidify its dominance of the US market, which it had virtually monopolized for almost two years, allowed its Beta machines to be sold under Zenith's brand name (Zenith being one of the major US television manufacturers). To counter this move, Matsushita set up a meeting with RCA to discuss a similar arrangement. RCA had previously concluded and publicly stated that a two-hour recording time was essential for a successful home video recorder. By the time the meeting took place, however, Sony had announced a two-hour Betamax, Beta II. RCA proposed to Matsushita that it produce a machine that could record a football game, which implied a 3 hour recording time. Six weeks later Matsushita had a working four-hour machine which used the same techniques to increase recording time that Sony had used in the Beta II.
RCA began selling VHS machines in the summer of 1977 (two years after Sony's introduction of the Betamax), dubbing its machine "SelectaVision." The advertising copy was simple: "Four hours. $1000. SelectaVision." Zenith responded by lowering the price of its Beta machine to $996. But within months, VHS was outselling Beta in the United States. A Zenith marketing executive is quoted as saying: "The longer playing time turned out to be very important, and RCA's product was better styled."
Although Sony was able to recruit Toshiba and Sanyo to the Beta format, Matsushita was able to bring Hitachi, Sharp, and Mitsubishi into its camp. Any improvement in one format was soon followed by a similar improvement in the other format. The similarities in the two machines made it unlikely that one format would be able to deliver a technological knockout punch. Similarly, when one group lowered its price, the other soon followed. The two formats proved equally matched in almost all respects save one: VHS's longer playing times. When Beta went to two hours, VHS went to four. When Beta increased to 5 hours, VHS increased to 8. Of course, consumers wishing higher picture quality would set either machine to shorter playing times.
The market's referendum on playing time versus tape compactness was decisive and immediate. Not just in the United States, but in Europe and Japan as well. By mid 1979 VHS was outselling Beta by more than 2 to 1 in the US. By 1983 Beta's world share was down to 12 percent. By 1984 every VCR manufacturer except Sony had adopted VHS.
Klopfenstein (1989: 28) summarizes (our italics):
'Although many held the perception that the Beta VCR produced a better picture than VHS, technical experts such as Weinstein (1984) and Prentis (1981) have concluded that this was, in fact, not the case; periodic reviews in Consumers Reports found VHS picture quality superior twice, found Beta superior once, and found no difference in a fourth review. In conclusion, the Beta format appeared to hold no advantages over VHS other than being the first on the market, and this may be a lesson for future marketers of new media products.'"
From: Andrew Dubinsky [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
>Econ 101 was wrong. The customer simply wanted what Betamax
>was not going to provide for a few more years. Those years
>made all the difference. Remediation has arrived in the
>form of a DVD.
VHS was cheaper to manufacture due to less stringent audio and video
requirements (2 heads & mono audio). Hence the reason Sony dominated the
professional market with Beta. It took many years for VHS to deliver
comparable performance in audio and video with 4 head & Hi-Fi VHS units.
4/6/8 hour tape length did not arrive until about two years later when
EP (extended play) and later SP (super extended play) picture
compression was developed (I think by JVC).
Price and availability were the dominant factors. Sony did not have
channels into many retailers as Samsung, RCA, Hitachi, Panasonic,
Pioneer, Mitsubishi, and JVC did. The market divided along the same (or
similar) brand lines as you see today. Samsung/Hitachi/RCA on the low
end, and Mitsubishi/JVC on the high end, Panasonic and Pioneer target
>As far as I can tell, all the major tool vendors also support
>the REST architecture. What the pushback is is that for the
>programmer, it is harder to code REST. Again, REST requires
>discipline and SOAP requires a toolkit. Given that, SOAP
>will win because the payoffs start immediately and REST is
>sort of a deferred gratification based on predictable interfaces.
Harder to code almost always means lower uptake. Look at the success of
Visual Basic, possibly one of the all-time worst things to happen to an
otherwise pitiful language. One could also argue that Perl is the
ultimate write-only language as well, proving that easy-to-code scores
more points with developers than style, elegance, or maintainability.
Sadly, too many projects get done under the motto: "I don't care if it's
unmaintainable crap, our competitor just went into beta. Get it done."