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Date:      Thu, 18 Nov 1999 15:57:48 -0800
From:      "David Schwartz" <>
To:        "Phil Regnauld" <>
Cc:        <freebsd-chat@FreeBSD.ORG>
Subject:   RE: Marketing vs. technical superiority (was: Judge: "Gates Was Main Culprit")
Message-ID:  <000001bf3220$b72b8c50$>
In-Reply-To: <>

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	You really have to wonder. With the proliferation of cable, digital cable,
digital satellite, DVD, Laserdisc and large-screen TVs, why do we still have
VCRs that look like a broadcast from the late 1970's?

	You can't explain it by marketing. Nobody could hold technology back that
far for that long by marketing, and they would gain nothing by doing so --
the potential revenues of selling everyone new VCRs are greater than the
revenues from convincing them not to. And besides, who is seriously
marketing VHS today?

	You can't explain it by saying consumers don't care about quality. I think
the success of satellite TV, digital cable, and high-quality, large screen
television sets disproves that. And I think the future success of DVD will
disprove it further. (Of course, Laserdisc failed, maybe consumers _still_
don't care too much about quality? Maybe you need to give them interactivity

	You can't explain it by lock in. If lock in were the problem, SuperVHS
should have caught on. Similarly, the self-recording benefit should be
enough to weaken lock in. In any event, the only clearly superior recording
format still targetted at the home market that exists (SuperVHS) is free
from lock in. In any event, clever manufacturers could easily have come up
with techniques to avoid this, as DVD did.

	You can't explain it entirely by economies of scale. If people really
wanted a better standard, economies of scale would rapidly have brought
SuperVHS prices into parity. VCR prices aren't falling anymore, and there
are still several manufacturers of VCRs so the economies of scale can't be
overwhelmingly great. (And, of course, if it's economies of scale, why are
DVD prices falling?)

	Those interested in more detail should see Klopfenstein's article, "The
Diffusion of the VCR in the United States", in _The_VCR_Age_.

	I'm reasonably sure the truth lies somewhere inbetween all of these
extremes. This isn't a clear case of anything.


>Betamax gave you roughly ~400 lines, that's about 65% of Pal/Secam
>resolution (before that Secam was 825, that's before they
>switched to color)
>and about %75 of NTSC (Never Twice the Same Color :-).
>Don't know if there were any variants of NTSC Betamax, as with VHS
>(NTSC 3.58 & 4.43).
>VHS gives you roughly ~250 lines, with probably better
>color restitution,
>which might explain the consumers saying they liked the
>picture better.
>Doesn't say anything about sharpness.  It's a bit like the
>CD vs. vinyl
>argument: some people say vinyls and tube amps sound better.  It's
>a question of taste, and the fact that CDs sound too
>"clear" for some
>people, especially when they've been used to the
>post-master audio-spectrum
>compression of vinyls.

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