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Date:      Sat, 20 Nov 1999 22:04:49 -0700
From:      Brett Glass <brett@lariat.org>
To:        crh@outpost.co.nz
Cc:        chat@FreeBSD.ORG
Subject:   Re: Video Stupidity 
Message-ID:  <4.2.0.58.19991120204027.0452b630@localhost>
In-Reply-To: <19991117060702.DEB511527A@hub.freebsd.org>
References:  <000001bf30b5$b82c5470$021d85d1@youwant.to> <199911170254.TAA05982@usr08.primenet.com>

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At 07:06 PM 11/17/1999 +1200, Craig Harding wrote:

>PS I don't have the technical specs of Betamax and VHS to hand to
>compare them, so I'm not going to argue on technical performance,
>but everything I've read suggests VHS won because of (relatively) 
>free and open licensing vs Sony's desire to control and own 
>everything that was Betamax. Unfortunately Sony's tactics have been 
>much more successful in the broadcast arena.

Sony did try to charge rival content producers royalties to get
their films onto Betamax, which did indeed get said rivals quite
steamed. But those producers turned the tables. First, they 
initiated legal action against Sony. When that began to look as 
if it wouldn't succeed, they adopted other tactics. They refused
to let their content be produced on Beta and then subsidized 
the marketing efforts of VHS manufacturers. By chilling the
market with a lawsuit, marketing the heck out of VHS and 
restricting access to key content (such as Disney movies), 
Sony's rivals won. So, in the end, technology had 
nothing to do with how things turned out. Beta actually *was* 
superior, but things would have played out the same whether it 
was or not.

Incidentally, Sony is now trying to introduce a proprietary flash
memory format. Why another format? Partially so they can own it,
but primarily because it has COPY PROTECTION. (Yes, that's right; 
each Memory Stick incorporates SCMS.) Now that Sony itself has a
large content empire (which it began to bulk up shortly after it
realized that content lost it the VHS vs. Beta battle), it wants 
to prevent its content from being copied -- at all costs. Likewise,
have you ever noticed that there are no Walkmen that record? Again,
this is an attempt to protect content from copying. Funny how 
everything is interconnected.

Sony sometimes does produce decent products, but it's always 
important to watch for ulterior motives.

(Side note: I'm also rather bummed that Sony's Vaio F390, a very
good-looking and fast laptop, has a "lobotomodem" chip permanently
soldered onto the motherboard, making the modem useless unless you're
running Windows. You can't buy the machine without Windows, either.
Sony supports alternative OSes in Japan, I hear, but clearly wants 
to lock users into Microsoft products in the States. Like many 
vendors, they may HAVE to do this to be able to buy Windows from 
Microsoft. I hear that Microsoft charges more to license Windows 
if a vendor doesn't put Windows-specific hardware in a system;
this is one of their "marketing" programs.)

--Brett


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