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Sony's Reputation, and 10 Reasons Why They Could Fail

post #1 of 191
Thread Starter 
I understand that we live in a free enterprise society, and that competition is a virtue for consumers to have the opportunity in finding the right product for the right price. I also understand that over the past fifty years our economy has moved from a closed to an open system that focuses on the consumer moreso than the strict needs of the manufacturer as it did in the past. Sometimes this change in focus may drive the bottom line down, but supply/demand has proven time and time again that a company's survival is based on what the consumer wants.

This leads me to the point of this thread. Over the past thirty years, Sony has attempted time and time again to penetrate the market with a new, often proprietary device, only to end up failing miserably. To back up my claim, I have listed ten formats that have caused quite the controversy and criticism over the years.

1. Beta vs. VHS: The grand daddy of all format wars. This one lasted over 10 years before Sony conceded defeat in 1988 and began manufacturing VHS players. To my knowledge, Sony never attempted to license the technology out to other manufacturers

2. Minidisc vs. casette tape: This time Sony decided to wise up and license the technology out to several other manufacturers in an attempt to take over the audio recording market. The technology met with limited success after its sudden introduction in 1991, and was eventually drowned out by cheaper formats such as CD-R and, later, mp3s.

3. Digital 8 vs. Mini-DV: While boasting identical quality, the Digital 8 format was originally pushed to be a professional grade medium for storing DV footage. Lack of interest and compatibility with professional equipment pushed the format to eventually appeal to only the consumer market.

4. MMCD vs. SD: In the early 1990s, two high density optical storage formats were being developed. Super Density disc (SD) was backed by Toshiba, Time-Warner, Matsushita Electric, Hitachi, Mitsubishi Electric, Pioneer, Thomson, and JVC. MultiMedia Compact Disc (MMCD) was back by Phillips and non other than.....Sony! If it weren't for IBM president Lou Gerstner uniting the two formats and allowing Sony and Phillips to implement some proprietary specs, we would have probably seen a format war that would have surpassed that of Beta and VHS. This format was eventually changed to 'DVD' and led to the formation of the DVD Forum.

5. Memory Stick vs. SanDisk & Lexar: Despite developing the Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, Memory Stick Duo, and Memory Stick Micro, Sony once again failed with the formats proprietary nature, as the majority of devices that support it are only from Sony. SanDisck and Lexar, however enjoy significant third party licensees that have led to industry support in both consumer and professional devices.

6. DVD+R vs. DVD-R: Here's an interesting one. After the DVD Forum was created to represent the DVD format and ensure its success, Sony decides to develop DVD+R for the DVD Alliance outside the Forum. Pioneer developed the DVD-R for the DVD Forum. What followed was a massivly confused consumer market over the next several years. Incompatible players, incompatible recorders, and DVDs recorded in the wrong format led to headaches for most buyers. This problem still continues today, although many manufacturers have decided to develop players/recorders that support both formats.

7. MicroMV vs. MiniDV: As if MiniDV wasn't small enough for storage, Sony decides to develop a casette medium 70% smaller that it hoped would appeal to the masses. It didn't. Sony was the only manufacturer to sell camcorders supporting this format, and as of January 2006 it stopped manufacturing any new models.

8. UMD vs. Ipod Video: The biggest problem with Sony's Universal Media Disc, besides its defunct sales, is that the disc is hardly 'Universal'. Developed for use with the PSP, the format has been criticized for its proprietary nature along with the unavialibility of writers and blank media. Because of security reasons and to protect DVD sales, Sony announced no plans for UMD playback on normal televisions. I wouldn't worry about cannabilism because UMDs average around $30 while their DVD counterparts range from about $10 to $25. As for security, the format was cracked soon after it was released. By March 2006 Paramount, Warner, and Sony announced they were cutting back releases while Universal and Image Entertainment ceased development outright.

9. SACD vs. DVD-Audio: This war was doomed from the beginning. Despite being a huge fan of high-res multichannel audio, I (along with most of you) am only one of a small niche of consumers interested in a format better than CD audio. While many format wars had its share of consumer backers to drive revenue, this one never made it to that point. Sony and Phillips backed SACD. The DVD Forum backed DVD-Audio. While the Forum had been established to advance the progression of DVD, Sony must have decided that it would be able to take the market share and break away from the standard. This was not the case; neither format became successful.

10. Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD: So here we are, nine failed formats later. The new format war is at hand that could potentially dethrone the Beta/VHS war. The interesting fact is that this format war, like many others, could have been avoided all together. On November 19, 2003 the DVD Forum declared in an overwhelming majority vote that HD-DVD would be the successor to DVD. All of the home theater enthusiasts across the world had something to look forward to, and the reaction was one of anticipation and excitement. But alas, Newton's Third Law kicked in and showed that every action is followed with an equal and opposite reaction. That opposite reaction was Sony's disapproval of the format and its announcement of the Blu-Ray format it was going to develop outside the consideration of the DVD Forum. The format was boasted superior to HD-DVD in all ways - better picture, better sound, higher storage capacity, more support. Yes, it was going to be twice the price, but you pay for what you get, correct? Now, as we all know, many of these promises have come up short. Granted, the format war is in its infancy, but as history has shown, Sony could potentially shoot themselves in the foot once again and produce another failure, costing millions of dollars and leaving another bad taste in the mouths of consumers across the globe.

I cannot mention the failures of Sony without mentioning its successes. Granted, the company has created several products that spawned worldwide attention, including the Playstations, the new SXRD televisions, and the ever popular 'Ruby'. I just wish the company would find some kind of middle ground that wasn't constantly pleasing, pissing off, pleasing, and then pissing off customers again. The purpose of this thread is for each of you to share your thoughts on what you think of Sony in general, and how you think the company's past will influence its push for Blu-Ray to become the successor to DVD. You may agree with what I say, or you may disagree with me and attempt to tear this post apart, which is fine with me. Either way, I'd like to hear your thoughts.
post #2 of 191
As regards to #1 - I had a Toshiba Beta machine in 1984.
post #3 of 191
If history is any indication, it will repeat itself once again.
post #4 of 191
This is your first post ever? Gentlemen I do apologize for being cynical, however I am very suspicious of this post being an instance of 'viral marketing'.
post #5 of 191
Interesting thread - I had forgotten some of those formats already! Here's my take. I agree that the BD vs. HD-DVD bears much similarity to many of the previous wars, but I think that Sony has learned a bit from the past. They succeeded in securing CE and studio support - which would be critical for the format to live.

However, so far they haven't succeeded in execution. Granted, it is early, but if the Sony player had been first and good, and the first titles would have had DL to pick from, I think folks would have been far more satisfied with the results.

I think Sony and the BD Forum in general had/has a good gameplan - I think they just have failed on execution to this point.

My biggest fear is that both formats will die.
post #6 of 191
Quote:
Originally Posted by turansformer View Post

Over the past thirty years, Sony has attempted time and time again to penetrate the market with a new, often proprietary device, only to end up failing miserably.

Just as well that's not what's happening this time then isn't it. With Matsushita, Samsung, Pioneer, Philips, Hitachi, et al in addition to Sony, only the most myopic of Sony haters could claim this was a proprietary Sony format.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Ballentine View Post

As regards to #1 - I had a Toshiba Beta machine in 1984.

Further to that I believe that Toshiba's first video players were in fact Betamax. It wasn't until later that they started producing VHS decks.

The HD-A1 would look right at home among these players!
post #7 of 191
I also had a Sanyo Beta machine as well as Sony. So #1 is not true.
post #8 of 191
Thread Starter 
Guys, thanks for the correction on #1. I wasn't sure, so that's why I said "to my knowledge."
Quote:


This is your first post ever? Gentlemen I do apologize for being cynical, however I am very suspicious of this post being an instance of 'viral marketing'.

The post was not intended to be viral marketing. I just want to see what people have to say about Blu-Ray based off of Sony's past products. As far as this being my first post, I understand that many of you will judge me and assume I have no right to say some of the things I have. Just remember that you were probably judged the same way when you made your first post.
Quote:


Just as well that's not what's happening this time then isn't it. With Matsushita, Samsung, Pioneer, Philips, Hitachi, et al in addition to Sony, only the most myopic of Sony haters could claim this was a proprietary Sony format.

I am not a myopic Sony hater. In fact, I think that some of their products, especially their SXRD models, are some of the best looking TV's available for under $5000. The post was not a means of bashing Sony, but rather a look at the format wars its participated in over the years and how that will affect Blu-Ray.
post #9 of 191
Thread Starter 
I realized I didn't word the last sentence in #1 correctly. Sony did license the technology out to other manufacturers, but it was JVC that decided to use open sharing of its VHS technology, a decision that hurt profit for the company but ultimately tipped the format war in favor of VHS. By 1984, forty companies backed VHS compared to only 12 for Beta.
post #10 of 191
Looks like its already starting: PC World, in their "100 Best Products of the Year"

just rated Sony as "Worst Company of the Year" and rated HD-A1 the #14 best product of the year!

It is being discussed in this thread: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/show...117#post7957117

The actual article can be found here: http://www.pcworld.com/reviews/arti...,125706,00.asp#




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post #11 of 191
Quote:


2. Minidisc vs. casette tape: This time Sony decided to wise up and license the technology out to several other manufacturers in an attempt to take over the audio recording market. The technology met with limited success after its sudden introduction in 1991, and was eventually drowned out by cheaper formats such as CD-R and, later, mp3s.

Hmmm... wrong anology. It was MD VS DCC or Digital Compact Cassette. And both companies (Sony and Philips) licensed their technology out. It failed simply because people were pleased with their tapes. The new formats had copyright protection that was draconian (for those days). And people were too scared to spend $$$ only to end up with an expensive paperweight. The DCC went the way of the dodo and the MD, well, Sony and (was it Sharp?) hung on with it, but it never succeeded in replacing the CD or the CC.
post #12 of 191
What about the CD (Compact Disc)? I think Sony did ok on that one
post #13 of 191
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith Mascarenhas View Post

Hmmm... wrong anology. It was MD VS DCC or Digital Compact Cassette. And both companies (Sony and Philips) licensed their technology out. It failed simply because people were pleased with their tapes. The new formats had copyright protection that was draconian (for those days). And people were too scared to spend $$$ only to end up with an expensive paperweight. The DCC went the way of the dodo and the MD, well, Sony and (was it Sharp?) hung on with it, but it never succeeded in replacing the CD or the CC.

I'd thought about using DCC instead of casette tapes, but since the two shared the same form factor and that DCC's were backwards compatible with analog casette tapes, I decided not to go that route.
post #14 of 191
I like products from many manufaturers including Sony. There are also products that I dislike from many manufacturers.

I love Sony TVs. It's my opinion that they make some of the best sets in the world.

When the cd player was in vogue, they made some superb ES machines that are still highly sought after today.

Their high end DVD players are very nice machines.

I shy away from their receivers (buy Denon), but I'm sure their ES receivers are also very nice.

I own a PSP which is a little marvel of engineering.

I think Sony is a good company that is always on the cutting edge, however they make folks angry because they are always trying to one up their competition by producing proprietary products to not only make a profit for the company, but a name for themselves also. Kind of like Apple Computer.

In the business world you are always looking for that "edge".

I can complain about individual products that have failed me in the past from various companies, but I really can't hate any of these companies.....I'm glad they are all there to give us more choice.

I only wish that both camps had produced a unified product such as the CD or the DVD......there would be less stress!
post #15 of 191
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jazar View Post

What about the CD (Compact Disc)? I think Sony did ok on that one

Sony released one of the first CD players, but didn't invent the technology. Philips could technically be considered the father of CD technology, not Sony. They started experiments with audio-only optical discs during the 1970s. Sony and several other companies ended up working on the format together. Even Philips themselves claim there is no 'father of the CD'.
post #16 of 191
I had a MiniDisc player, I dug the technology but I could NEVER again add or subtract music because Sony made you use their software, Once I redid my harddrive and lost the software I had a paperweight... Screw Blu-ray I hope it dies fast... Painlessly mind you I am not cynical or anything but I was in college and that MiniDisc player was a lot of money, GONE!
post #17 of 191
I agree with posters who've mentioned that cassette, DCC, MD and CD-R all sort of collided with CD-R (and later MP3 players) eventually coming through on top.

I own a lot of these somewhat proprietary formats. I have a Phillips DCC900 player, and I've got a Sony TRV820 Digital8 player. I also had until recently a Hi8 deck... another format that wasn't mentioned here. And let's not forget SVHS!

I figure that the stars only line up as they did for CD and DVD once every decade or two, and the HD discs just don't provide a huge leap up from CD/DVD that CD/DVD did from cassette/vhs that would force all companies to band together or get left off the bandwagon. If the replacement for DVD were a holographic storage medium inside a 30mmx30mmx3mm plastic shell that held 100GB, then we'd probably have one format because it'd be clear as day that such a device would be a quantum leap beyond DVD. As it is, HD-DVD and Blu-Ray... well, heck, the discs themselves look exactly the same as DVD. It's an evolutionary upgrade, and everyone has their own spin on how to do an evolutionary upgrade.
post #18 of 191
Sony could learn a lot from modern IBM on how to corral R&D resources and leverage them to a competitive advantage. Sony reminds me a lot of IBM in its Micro-channel days and they don't seem to have learned whereas IBM did.
post #19 of 191
Quote:
Originally Posted by turansformer View Post

I am not a myopic Sony hater. In fact, I think that some of their products, especially their SXRD models, are some of the best looking TV's available for under $5000. The post was not a means of bashing Sony, but rather a look at the format wars its participated in over the years and how that will affect Blu-Ray.

There are some pretty obvious omissions from your list if you really did want to look at the format wars Sony has been involved in over the years. Playstation for one.

You might want to also take a second look at your title: "Sony's reputation, and 10 reasons why they could fail". Why Sony could fail at what? Unless you're misatributing the BD format only to Sony then your sentence makes no sense. I'm assuming you'll also be providing similar breakdowns of the performance of Panasonic, Philips, Toshiba, Pioneer, Microsoft, etc, in other threads?
post #20 of 191
I don't see how Memorystick was a failure (its still sold daily) as is Digital 8, yes they probably don't share the success of SD or DV, but it works and its supported.

UMD, well i for one like the option of buying a movie for the little marvel which is PSP. Although i currently only have 5 flicks for my psp, let me have to take a flight im sure i'd snatch up 3 or 4 more.

I'd hardly call these "failures" especially when they have no sign of dissapearing any time soon.
post #21 of 191
I tend to avoid "Sony only" proprietary products.
I do think sonys products are of a high quality standard, but with a higher price tag to go with it.
At the end of the day i ended doing what Joe 6 pack would do, and go for the best bang for the buck.
post #22 of 191
Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith Mascarenhas View Post

Hmmm... wrong anology. It was MD VS DCC or Digital Compact Cassette. And both companies (Sony and Philips) licensed their technology out. It failed simply because people were pleased with their tapes. The new formats had copyright protection that was draconian (for those days). And people were too scared to spend $$$ only to end up with an expensive paperweight. The DCC went the way of the dodo and the MD, well, Sony and (was it Sharp?) hung on with it, but it never succeeded in replacing the CD or the CC.

IIRC it was DAT vs. DCC. DAT wasn't a mass market success but it was far from a failure.
post #23 of 191
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian@BBY View Post

I don't see how Memorystick was a failure (its still sold daily) as is Digital 8, yes they probably don't share the success of SD or DV, but it works and its supported.

UMD, well i for one like the option of buying a movie for the little marvel which is PSP. Although i currently only have 5 flicks for my psp, let me have to take a flight im sure i'd snatch up 3 or 4 more.

I'd hardly call these "failures" especially when they have no sign of dissapearing any time soon.

Try shopping for a memory stick. Sure , you can buy them, but you're going to pay top dollar.
Back in the day, I paid premium for Sony TV's, Camcorders, digital cameras, receivers, etc... But in time, the CCD's on the cameras failed, the tv became obsolete (not Sony's fault, I admit) and the memory sticks I needed became a rip off compared to similar SD cards.
I'm not on the HD-DVD bandwagon yet, but I know for sure I'll pass on the BD player. I think it won'd be long before movie titles are available in both formats. And when it does happen, I'll grab a HD-DVD player then.
post #24 of 191
Quote:


IIRC it was DAT vs. DCC. DAT wasn't a mass market success but it was far from a failure.

No, it wasn't DAT VS DCC. Check this out: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/1...red.html?pg=20

It was DCC VS MiniDisc. DCC came out at the time of MiniDisc and both used compression (PASC on DAT and ATRAC on MD) whereas DAT did not. DAT came out earlier and sort of survived in semi-professional and professional audio circles but it was a failure as a consumer format because of the copy protection built into it.
post #25 of 191
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian@BBY View Post

UMD, well i for one like the option of buying a movie for the little marvel which is PSP. Although i currently only have 5 flicks for my psp, let me have to take a flight im sure i'd snatch up 3 or 4 more.

I'd hardly call these "failures" especially when they have no sign of dissapearing any time soon.

I'm glad you had a good experience with your little marvel PSP but my experience was nothing even close to marvelous. I hated that Sony released more UMD movies then games for the PSP. I bought mine to be a portable game system not a portable movie player. Not-to-mention the fact that UMD movies cost $5-$15 more then there DVD counterpart and for that reason I never bought one. If I wanted a portable movie player I would have spent far less money on a portable DVD player and would be able to use my current DVD collection (not having to re-buy movies in the expensive UMD format). I would consider UMD a failed format because most studios are cutting back or going to stop releasing movies on the format. I see signs of movies disappearing on UMDs real soon.

My disappointment with the PSP reach a boiling point a few weeks ago and I traded it in for a DS Lite (a much better portable gaming system with plenty of fun games out IMO).
post #26 of 191
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian@BBY View Post

I don't see how Memorystick was a failure (its still sold daily) as is Digital 8, yes they probably don't share the success of SD or DV, but it works and its supported.

UMD, well i for one like the option of buying a movie for the little marvel which is PSP. Although i currently only have 5 flicks for my psp, let me have to take a flight im sure i'd snatch up 3 or 4 more.

I'd hardly call these "failures" especially when they have no sign of dissapearing any time soon.

I believe Digital8 has been put out to pasture by the only company that made D8 products... yes, Sony.

They are useful for converting those Sony Hi8 tapes to DV-AVI however. I'm real surprised that Digital8 used a semi-standard format for delivering digital AV.
post #27 of 191
Just out of curiousity (b/c I was too young to really care) who was involved in the DCC (digital compact cassette) vs. DAT (digital audio tape) war about the same time as MiniDisc came out? I remember that I really like the DCC b/c the player played cassettes also. But being in junior high of course, I couldn't convince my parents to buy me a $900 player for no reason except it was cool. I never saw the DAT players, but I remember them being big in the radio industry for data storage and song archives, etc. I was just curious. Thanks in advance. If it matters I think the DCC player was a Pioneer (or one of its of shoots at Radio Shack)
post #28 of 191
Quote:
Originally Posted by turansformer View Post

1. Beta vs. VHS: The grand daddy of all format wars. This one lasted over 10 years before Sony conceded defeat in 1988 and began manufacturing VHS players. To my knowledge, Sony never attempted to license the technology out to other manufacturers

Sony tried very aggressively to license it to other companies. They had Sanyo, Toshiba, Zenith and NEC at one point. JVC ended up winning for a number of reasons (mainly the longer recording time in my opinion).

The early Betas recorded and played only in what was later called BI. This only gave one hour per tape. They quickly added BII and BIII which extended this to 2 and 3 hours, but these tapes wouldn't play on the older VCRs. The BII/BIII VCRs couldn't even record in BI. Most of the new VCRs couldn't play the old BI tapes either. This basically turned all the first generation Beta VCRs into junk over night since they were completely incompatible with all other Beta VCRs and pre-recorded tapes. This eliminated all their advantage from being on the market before VHS. I'm sure they lost a lot of customers who were not happy to see their several thousand $ (in 2006$) VCR become almost useless after only a couple of years.
post #29 of 191
Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith Mascarenhas View Post

No, it wasn't DAT VS DCC. Check this out: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/1...red.html?pg=20

It was DCC VS MiniDisc. DCC came out at the time of MiniDisc and both used compression (PASC on DAT and ATRAC on MD) whereas DAT did not. DAT came out earlier and sort of survived in semi-professional and professional audio circles but it was a failure as a consumer format because of the copy protection built into it.

I stand corrected...

I just remember seeing DAT vs. DCC shootouts in AUDIO magazine, etc.
post #30 of 191
Quote:
Originally Posted by turansformer View Post

Either way, I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Your post has a number of factual errors. The idea itself is flawed because the number of failed proprietary formats does not predict how Blu-ray will fare, in light of the number of successful proprietary formats Sony has introduced. Having said that, I don't think either number matters too much at this point. There are a number of other, much more important issues at hand.
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