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Beta/VHS debacleThe classic case of the problems associated with two distinct electronic formats competing for the same purpose. It was often cited when discussing Blu-ray and HD DVD; two competing high-definition DVD formats that battled it out from 2003 to 2008, until HD DVD was discontinued.
In 1975, Sony introduced Betamax, the first popular home videotape recording system. Matsushita subsidiary JVC followed with VHS a year later. Betamax and VHS used different cassettes and recorders and required users to make a choice.
May the Best Technology Lose
Betamax is an example of a superior product losing out to an inferior one. Betamax was always considered the better technology, especially in the beginning, but convenience was more popular than quality. VHS tapes held a full two-hour movie several months before Beta could catch up. In addition, JVC offered better licensing arrangements for making VHS players, and Hollywood studios began to favor the format. Exploding in the 1980s, video rental stores carried both Beta and VHS, but were pushing for only one, and by 1989, there was little Beta content available. However, while VHS reigned as the standard consumer video format in the 1990s, it too was forced to give way after the turn of the century; this time to DVDs. See Betamax and VHS.