I am uncertain as to whether it is possible to empathize with a format, if it is then I think feel for the HD DVD standard; following its short shelf life it has been doomed to only live on in the minds of those who witnessed beating delivered by the in principle advanced rival the BluRay format. In order to relieve the hurting I feel it may be helpful to look at other technological advances that showed potential for, but failed to deliver in practice:
Microsoft Bob – I have only used Microsoft Bob once in my life before immediately deleting it from the PC it came bundled with way back in 1995; by my estimation this would have made me thirteen. Bob was an application which sat on top of your existing Windows installation and was designed for making simple tasks such as deleting a file or writing a letter easier for the non technical user. Unfortunately I don’t think it really appealed to any particular demographic hence disappointing sales figures and the application was scrapped before Windows 98 was released.
The cartoonish visuals and persistent stream of sounds imply it was intended for children, but this is inconsistent as the majority of children are familiar with how to use a PC. Similarly, a regular user that wasn’t technically experienced would still find the application condescending – nobody needs a elephant telling them how to write a letter to their bank manager. By eliminating these two audiences we are left with a group of of possibly simple people who both don’t know how to use a computer but are willing to take tutorials from a series of irritating cartoon characters. These animations were unrelenting, infuriating and don’t allow the user to do anything without their direction.
Minidisc – Even though it cannot be considered a total flop, the Sony’s Minidisc (launched in 1992) never really gave the Compact Disc much in the way of competition. This seems to be due to the fact to the majority of users the format didn’t really offer substantial advantages, especially when you compare it to the steadily falling price of CD-R media it was quite a substantial investment. Even today I struggle to find motive as to why Minidisc’s were produced and how it achieved the sales it did.
DAT – The DAT (Digital Audio Tape) was created by Sony as a replacement for the old analogue cassette during the 1980’s. As a result of worries within the industry regarding how easily users home make illegal copies using a DAT, coupled with the comparatively quick user adoption of the newly released CD standard, this format had a rather short life outside of the professional recording studio scene.
Betamax – The majority of readers will be familiar with this saga so I won’t go into too much detail. Even though Betamax was strictly superior to the VHS tape, it was a victim of one of the first format conflicts. Betamax was launched in 1975 and is another failed Sony format – I’m certain they’ll be reassured by the fact BluRay format they so copiously promoted has come out victorious this time round.
Smart appliances – How would you like a fridge that keeps an eye on its own contents and then takes it upon itself to order more milk off the Internet when you’re running out? Even though these gadgets create hype at trade shows, I would much rather walk down the road to the garage.
(Image Credit – Bing Images )
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