The iconic Sony Betamax Tapes will no longer be produced, it has recently been announced. The exact date when their fabrication will cease is expected to be sometime in March 2016.
The decision has been in the making for quite a long time, given that production of players and recorders destined for these tapes had been discontinued approximately 13 years ago.
However, Betamax tapes, which had initially been commercialized in 1975, were still being created in Japan, but they will soon become a thing of the past.
The video cassettes had actually lost significant ground a long time ago, after a drawn-out battle for supremacy with VHS (video home system) tapes.
Sony had initially launched Betamax, and had proposed to Japan’s Ministry of Trade and Industry to make this an official standard. However, Victor Company of Japan (JVC) created its own system, which eventually emerged triumphant.
On the other hand, Sony’s Blu-Ray format won a possibly more important challenge in the early 2000’s, against Toshiba’s HD-DVD.
Toshiba’s prior success in introducing its VHS standard was due to the fact that casettes could be used on much more affordable players. JVC’s cassettes also boasted an extended recording time, being able to capture 2 hours of video.
In contrast, Betamax tapes could only provide one hour’s worth of recording time at first, although their image resolution was considered to be superior.
They were also much more easily rewinded or fast-forwarded, and videos could be edited much more effectively, which initially gave them an edge over their competitors.
However, more customers opted for extended recordings to the detriment of picture quality, and although Sony attempted to improve play time by reducing resolution, the war had already been lost.
By 1986, VHS had captured 85% of the market share, due to economies of scale through mass production and distribution. Given this failure, Sony also began producing VHS players in 1988, moving focus away from Betamax. Now, it appears that manufacturers will be giving this dying recording format its final blow.
Other previously popular items which Sony will no longer produce are MicroMV camcorder cassettes, which had been supported by numerous camcoders at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
For those who are now experiencing nostalgia thinking about their youth when Betamax videocassettes had peaked in popularity, it must be noted that there is still the option to purchase such products on eBay or Amazon Japan.
There are also Betacam cassettes still available, which were launched in 1982, and provide significantly higher audio and video quality. They are being used nowadays especially for archiving and broadcasting purposes.
However, in television studios, they have been progressively replaced by digital products like the Multi Access Video Disk Recorder or the Digital Betacam.
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