Originally Posted by Mike99
The general consensus is that Beta was better than VHS. But VHS had the 6 hr recording speed which was a strong selling point for those that recorded.
While thats true, as a long-ago video store owner I can tell you there were other reasons along with those, which when you roll them altogether also apply to todays "independent DVD recorder vs proprietary PVR" smackdown. One of the biggest, most damaging strikes against the Betamax was that Sony just could not
build one that didn't break down once a month until Beta was already "dead", later in the 1980s. I can't tell you how many grizzled old service guys retired on the sudden windfall of Sony Betamax repair fees. Over many years, and thousands of customers, that was a big topic of discussion: Beta would have sold more, and retained its installed base longer, if only Sony had figured out how not to make crappy mechanicals. It was like a bizarre curse: the Betamax was beautifully built of high-grade parts, but the damn things could not function well for more than a few weeks at a time.
THAT, combined with the growing trend toward video rental stores on every streetcorner, which were mostly started by random twits with $5,000 to invest "in the latest scam", is what did Beta in. By 1982 rental stores were everywhere
, run by the housewives of teamsters who were NOT at all keen on the idea of stocking two formats. The final nail was that pre-recorded Hollywood Beta tape quality totally sucked
compared to home-recorded Beta tapes, or even pre-recorded VHS. Five years after introducing the hottest home electronics gadget of the century, Sony was completely marginalized, mostly traceable back to that first, incredibly stupid decision to base the Beta format on 60 minute tapes (when the number one thing people wanted to record was the then-popular "movie of the week" theatrical films: do movies run 60 mins in Japan?).
Anyway a lot of this in different degrees also applies to DVD recorders and BD: early ones were obscenely expensive but had burners that wore out within a year. Later ones had other defects that made them hard to use, then blank media quality went into the toilet causing way too many coasters, then Sony and Toshiba started the irrational incompatible war over a followup disc, leaving retailers totally screwed. Fast forward to BluRays "win", and Sony is repeating the Beta mess all over again: ridiculously complicated player hardware that the consumer needs to keep "upgrading" and Hollywood pre-recs that often don't look a helluva lot better than plain DVDs at half the price. Deja-friggin-vu. Maybe our great-grandchildren will finally get this right.