The Educated Gamer: Why Sony Will Never Have Global Electronic Dominance

Sony is trying to pull some strings with their Blu-ray plans for PlayStation 3, but will it work in their favor in the end? We look to history for some clues...

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This article contains some strong language


Sony, as a company, has been responsible for many innovations—most of you reading this own something made by Sony (whether you know it or not). It has developed a fervid following in several markets and yet is not always the market leader. The reason for that is simple: Sony has trouble tolerating any other company that deals in electronics. The current debacle with the PlayStation 3 is nothing new in the history of Sony.

In 1975, Sony introduced Betamax. It was revolutionary in its precision and its scope. There wasn’t a better product out or even in the pipeline. The only technology close was VHS (which was more than a year off). So, why didn’t the world make the switch from Beta to DVD? Because Sony ruined everything about the technology it so desperately wanted to proliferate the market with.


The first Betamax machine was over $2,300.00…in 1975. Sony decided if companies wanted to use the designs and technology to make their own player/recorder, they would have to pay an incredible price (sometimes over 50% of the profit). Many companies balked at the idea of selling half their profits down the river to a rival.

With very few takers, Sony was poised to own the market in home recording and viewing. That is, until JVC dropped the V-bomb. VHS: the format everyone loves to hate. JVC had been working on VHS almost as long as Sony had been working on Betamax, and in 1976 they released it to the world. VHS was inferior: The sound wasn’t as good and the picture had more limitations. JVC made up for this by sharing the architecture for not only the drives, but the construction as well.

A winner was born almost overnight. Companies scrambled to build their own branded VHS machines. With real competition, Sony lowered the price of the Betamax to $1,300.00—but it was too late, as VHS machines could be had for the unheard of price of $800.00. In a world market, best doesn’t always equal leading. Finally, in 1988 Sony gave up the ghost and began making VHS machines.

Does any of that sound familiar? Let’s look at some of the facts surrounding the PlayStation 3 Blu-ray assbagatry that’s abound.

First off: Blu-ray wasn’t even submitted to the DVD Forum that helps make and develop standards so that consumers aren’t screwed with things like Beta, MiniDisc, CD+RW, etc. Secondly, let’s look at the main players that are behind Blu-ray’s competition (the current standard of choice) HDDVD: Toshiba, NEC, Sanyo, Microsoft, and Intel. You think maybe this has something to do with Xbox?? It all has a global domination kind of patina on it, doesn’t it?

Is it feasible for a videogame system to be $800.00? NO! I was pissed off enough when Street Fighter II for SNES was $75.00. I think the real loser here is the consumer. As usual, Sony refuses to let the world have good quality products without bowing to Sony first. Oddly enough, Blu-ray and HDDVD both use very similar lasers (they’re even both the same blue-violet spectrum).

I guess the moral to the story is that some companies never learn and guys like me have to purchase an iPod Nano and allow our MiniDisc players to collect dust.

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About the Contributor

From 2006 to 2007

Joel Tandberg is a former staff member from GameCola's early days as a monthly email newsletter.

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