[vorbis] A killer clip
crdic at yahoo.com
Thu Aug 2 15:18:10 PDT 2001
Hongli Lai wrote:
> Just being superior isn't enough these days (think VHS vs Betamax).
I'm sure Jack will give you his usual answer to this, which is that VHS
won because it was "more open". There's probably some truth to that, but
I also think VHS won because it really was, in one important way,
better. Bear with me here!
When people talk about Beta vs. VHS, they always seem to obsess about
image quality, as if that were the only difference between the two. This
is misleading. VHS was better than Beta, from the viewpoint of the
average consumer, in one very important way: it could fit 120 minutes on
a single cassette. Beta, at that time, was limited to 60. So if a Beta
user taped a movie off cable, he'd miss several seconds in the middle
when he had to switch tapes. VHS users only had that problem with longer
movies, which seem to be more common today than they were in the early
'80s when the Beta vs. VHS war was being fought.
Of course, Sony eventually came out with enhanced Beta machines that
supported longer durations, but by then some damage had already been
done to Beta's primacy. Also, I think you may have needed to buy a new
Beta machine to get the longer playing time; it wasn't just a matter of
using longer, thinner tape, so the old machines couldn't do it. This
effectively destroyed Beta's installed-base advantage. (Maybe someone
who owned an early Beta machine can comment on this -- I didn't own a
VCR until 1987, though I had seen Betamaxes in other people's homes as
early as 1977 or so.)
I strongly suspect that the playing-time issue, for the average consumer
(who isn't as obsessive about A/V quality as most readers of this list
probably are), was at least as important as Jack's "more open" point
(which really just boils down to "lower retail price due to competition
between multiple vendors"). So I find the Beta:VHS :: Vorbis:MP3
comparison somewhat misleading, regardless of whether image quality or
"open-ness" is the focus of it.
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