Digital Killed the Betamax Star: Betamax is Dead, Long Live Betamax

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Date: Thursday, August 29th, 2002, 11:55
Category: Archive


For years, the Mac’s smaller market share and the domination by a (presumably) inferior format has been compared to the war between Sony’s superior Betamax and Matsushita’s mainstream-successful VHS. Curiously, though, Betamax has withstood the test of time, hanging on by delivering technologies to niche markets for some 27 years — not unlike the Mac’s own ability to carve out a market among those who love the product. Both technologies share affection from high-end video and broadcast. When Sony announced that it was ceasing production of Betamax decks on Tuesday, in fact, the culprit was not VHS, but digital video storage. If anything, hopefully killing off the Mac-Betamax metaphor forever, the Mac is Beta’s invincible competitor, with everything from TV ads to this summer’s acclaimed movie Full Frontal edited on Apple’s Final Cut Pro.

Oh, and by the way, Beta isn’t really dead yet. Sony says it will continue to manufacture Beta tapes and repair machines, and its high-end broadcast Betacam lines are unaffected. Let that be a lesson on market superiority.

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