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back to article Oh Sony. Have we learned NOTHING from SuperAIT?

It's deja freakin' vu all over again, as the grim spectres of AIT and Super AIT tape are coming alive again. Meanwhile the good ship Sony is sinking in the west, the crew distracted by a tape technology sideshow. Consider these two recent stories: Sony reckons it will make a $1.3bn loss after selling off its failing PC business …

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Betamax all over again.

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MJI
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Don't knock Beta

It pissed over Vhs in quality.

And I have captured 30 year old tapes perfectly

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Re: Don't knock Beta

Yes but it lost it the marketplace. Something Sony has been doing a lot of lately.

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Pint

Proprietary vs. Open / Industry Standard

Relax. The difference is basically a memo.

You may have a point that the memo in this case is highly unlikely.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Don't knock Beta

Nobody's knocking Beta

Betamax, however - that's a different story. It 'pissed over VHS' marginally, until they slowed the tape transport down so that one could record a whole movie, and then Super VHS came out,..

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MJI
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Re: Don't knock Beta

And I remember comparing a Super VHS deck against a Sony 950 and thinking SVHS still has crap colour handling.

I still have a working Sanyo deck

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Don't knock Beta

"Nobody's knocking Beta. Betamax, however - that's a different story."

I don't get what this part (specifically) is saying- as far as video formats go, "Beta" *was* just a marketing synonym for Betamax. (I'm assuming you didn't mean the Greek letter, since the context made the meaning obvious).

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Maybe they're still giddy over the blu ray vs hd dvd thing.

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You forgot to mention...

That when you use one of their new tapes, it silently installs a badly written DRM module that cripples your computer and opens it up to exploit by black hats, and if you try to remove it it will trash your operating system.

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Re: You forgot to mention...

"it silently installs a badly written DRM module"

No, Sony, we have NOT forgotten.

You know how the saying goes, "Don't piss off your customers, they might not come back."

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Re: You forgot to mention...

No, Sony, we have NOT forgotten.

You are not alone in making that statement.

I would not be surprised if the dammed deck requires a constant internet connection just to insure that its DRM scheme works.

</sarcasm>

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Remember that patents are very lucrative, so if Sony are using it as a means to create IP that they can license, this *might not* be as bonkers as it sounds.

However Sony's track record of wastefulness and massively loss-making ventures points elsewhere, I agree.

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Seems bonkers

Unless about 1/10th price, high margin, very reliable and about x4 the storage and speed of competitors.

This seems unlikely.

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Anonymous Coward

Hmmm... there are appear to be somewhat conflicting opinions on this development at Reg central

Sony says the new manufacturing technique is commercially viable and it's working to develop it into a data cartridge that can store 185TB of uncompressed data, although it isn't saying when. The company also suggests that greater densities could be achieved by using even smaller nanocrystals.

While some analysts have been predicting the death of tape for some time, it's still very popular for certain types of storage. Long-term backup is the main market these days, in addition to processes that are very data heavy. CERN makes extensive use of tape to record the findings of the Large Hadron Collider, for example.

Provided Sony can adapt the technique to mass production – and at a commercially viable price – this new tape could put its competition in trouble. While tape densities have been increasing slowly, this kind of technological leap could seriously disrupt the market.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/04/30/sony_nanotechnicians_invent_magnetic_tape_that_stores_148_gb_per_square_inch/

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Re: Hmmm... there are appear to be somewhat conflicting opinions on this development at Reg central

News report vs blog opinion....

Chris.

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I've got just the thing for SONY.

It's a proprietary format coffin

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Re: I've got just the thing for SONY.

strong CoTW candidate there lol.

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Something cultural within Sony

There must be something in the water at Sony HQ, because they keep doing this. Rather nifty technology that is incompatible with everything else and introduced at exquisitely inconvenient points in the market cycle. Remember MemoryStick? Betamax? PFD? Sigh.

It must be painful to believe that you have the best ideas but that the market stubbornly refuses to adopt them, preferring instead to go with mass market cheap-n-cheerful. But that's the dilemma of R&D in technology for you. (Hello, Token Ring. Nice to see you again.)

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Re: Something cultural within Sony

But Sony goes one better and introduces technology that isn't even compatible with themselves.

They refused to release minidisk as a computer data format ( 78Mb on a disk 1/4 the size of a floppy ) because of concerns from their movie studio that it would lead to piracy.

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Re: Something cultural within Sony

I used MiniDisc in the 90s and really wished it could be used to store data. There was something "cool" about the little cartridges. Sony did eventually bring out MD Data but it was expensive and too late to the market.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Something cultural within Sony

Minidisk?

I have a good collection of UMDs!!!! The wee feisty optical discs for the PSPs. (Don't feel bad for me, I bought them super cheap.)

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Yeah!!

One of a few companies I have boycotted, Sony being because of their audio CD auto-install virus back in the day.

Nice to see my boycott is working, not long now before they disappear and its all down to me :) :)

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Unhappy

new product viability

it has to be no more than current top end, preferably median

it has to be 10x better than anything else

It has to be reliable (hello Jazz disk)

it has to have no competitor likely for 2 years, preferably 3.

Given the boggling amounts of data from astronomy and CERN, it _might_ get a run for biggest end of town and be ignored for mere enterprises, if and only if it is delivered at a fixed date, fully working

chances of that? guesstimate is 5% given all megacorps attitude to their technical staff. Still, licensing to LTO consortium might be a steady legit IP income.

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"as optical disk sales collapse"

I have four attached to one box, and at least one optical drive for every other of the PCs I have. Including laptops.

I'm doing my bit...

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They haven't learned, no.

As others said, betamax... DAT, Minidisc, ATRAC over MP3. They keep thinking, like "Oh, if we come up with something good but keep strict control we can have 100% of the market!!!!" on things like this, and forget the part of the economics course about demand curves where if an "inferior" good is available much less expensively, many customers will choose that good instead.

And those computers! Man, I've seen a few Sony notebooks and they were all VERY weird. Weird BIOSes, hardware that was non-standard just to be non-standard. You know, I saw one with a fingerprint reader, with a chip fairly well supported on a variety of OSes. But, instead of Sony just supplying some software on their Windows install to make the chip useful, they had flashed in Sony-proprietary firmware that completely changed the chip's behavior so it'd ONLY work with their software.

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Devil

Sony's Dilemma Is Simple: It's Being Run By Marketing

I call the concept 'Marketing As Management'. Because of the supreme personality clash between the marketing mind and the creative producing mind, having a company run by marketing is doom. Marketing folks cannot and will not comprehend the productive mind and will go out of their way to subjugate it and demoralize it. Once the creativity has been wrung out of a company, all it has left is selling the usual stuff it had before the Marketing As Management horror took hold.

Until such time as Sony boots out their marketing guy CEO and replaces him with a productivity oriented CEO, the company is in constant FAIL mode. So long Sony!

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Re: Sony's Dilemma Is Simple: It's Being Run By Marketing

Sony's Dilemma Is Simple: It's Being Run By Marketing

You forgot a word in that statement, so allow me to repeat it with the missing word included:

Sony's Dilemma Is Simple: It's Being Run By Marketing ASSHOLES

See!!!!

Much better

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Re: Sony's Dilemma Is Simple: It's Being Run By Marketing

Is that true though? Marketing is about creating demand, R&D is about engineers trying to do funky stuff. Most Sony stuff is technically clever (Beta, Minidisc, etc.) but they fail to convey to the market why their stuff is so brilliant that it should corner said market.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sony's Dilemma Is Simple: It's Being Run By Marketing

Sony is quite famous for its Marketing own goals:

Anyone remember the borderline racist - black vs white (PSP i think?)

Oh and the 'youth' orientated fake youtube messages showing their lovefor the console (also PSP I think).

Not forgetting their total comms mismanagement of losing(giving?) everyones data out from PS3.

I also have qualms about their PS4 advertising which appears to show gamers as a bunch of fantasists who slip in and out of reality/games as they walk down the street, its slickly done but not ideal from the 'wont somebdoy think of the children' hyperbole.

Personally I'm a bit of a fan of Sony products..but their marketing is often really poorly thought out

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Release it asap

The only way they could succeed against LTO is to release that 185TB tape well before everyone else does a similar size. If they could get it to market while LTO is still peddling 2.5/5/10TB raw data tapes, then companies will eat it up. They'd obviously have to price it at a sensible price also (something that Sony has historically had a problem doing), but they could definitely capture the market.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Release it asap

"They'd obviously have to price it at a sensible price also (something that Sony has historically had a problem doing), but they could definitely capture the market."

The customers they would be looking at with this are those big companies and institutions who actually have shed loads of data, not the average Joe. Not only will they need to have a tape, but also a working tape library. Add to that a guarantee that their products will be supported for 5-10 years with repair on site within 24 hours or less. Oh and next generations must be backwards compatible.

Now if they can satisfy all that, then they might have a market in governments, science, big corps who have to store lots of data etc.

If they can't, it's a fail right there before they even started. (Which is more likely)

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Re: Release it asap

I don't see why they couldn't provide all that. With this sort of product, you build the support around your target market. If you're creating a 185TB tape, then you'd obviously be aiming at big data - your CERNs and Facebooks of the world. Therefore, you realise they want 4 hour repair/replace on drives/libraries. They want tapes to last X number of uses. They want support to be available for however many years etc...

If Sony were to release such a product and *not* provide this support, then they'd deserve to fail!

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Re: Release it asap

localzuk, even if they offer support for X number of years, and make X a reasonable amount, few people will expect them to exist that long.

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Re: Release it asap

Really? I think most financial analysts would disagree with you there. They might not exist in their exact current form, but they won't disappear. Their technology certainly won't disappear. This sort of technology could easily be farmed off into its own company...

Not to mention the fact that the company has 14tn Yen in assets. Around 10tn of that being physical or investment assets, rather than intangibles or good will. That's $136bn/$97bn. A fair amount they can work with to restructure... Even if they simply absorbed the losses and sold off assets, they could exist for decades yet.

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Wow... What a crappy author!!!

1) Beta succeeded on a massive scale (far more profitable than VHS) Sony sold tens of billions worth of Beta over a period of 30 years. Ever watched a VHS or DVD? That was mastered on DigiBeta. Every non-U.S. TV studio has tens of thousands of Beta, Beta SP, DigiBeta, HDCAM and HDCAM SR tapes sucking up massive physical storage space. The local TV network by here has a giant warehouse here with close to a million beta tapes which cost $30-$100 a piece to buy... From Sony. Want to replace them? No problem! Just find a hard drive system able to store a million hours of footage at 250GB an hour... And is reliable. BTW, MTV used Beta for all music videos which filled multiple warehouses.

2) Sony tape formats aren't about data storage. They're about film/video storage. A modern film requires 10TB+ to transmit in master format and substantially more for raw asset storage. A single film will be copied onto hundreds of tapes for distribution to post production houses around the world. A massively overpriced proprietary format is a good thing since it's the preferred method of delivery by companies like Buena Vista who found the best DRM is the kind which requires special machines which cost obscene amounts to own. They love $50,000+ tape systems for raw footage delivery. MPLS networks are still to slow for this type of stuff.

Get your facts right... You're looking only at the surface and what you would buy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wow... What a crappy author!!!

CheesyTheClown: "Beta succeeded on a massive scale (far more profitable than VHS)"

(tl;dr response at end).

For someone who claims "Wow... What a crappy author!!!" and "get your facts right..." you're apparently being ignorant or disingenuous by conflating two different formats (i.e. Betamax and Betacam) as "Beta". Especially as the article itself specifically referred to "BetaMAX" and all the examples you gave were of BetaCAM derivatives.

To clarify:-

"Betamax" (sometimes marketed as "Beta") was the original consumer and low-end format released in the mid-70s, the one that went head-to-head with VHS and lost.

"Betacam" was a later (early-80s) format aimed at the professional market. The *original* version of Betacam could use the same blank cassettes as Betamax but even that used a very different and incompatible recording format (higher-quality and higher tape speed).

You refer to a whole load of "Beta" formats- some by their colloquial names, obscuring the fact that these were all derivatives of Betacam, not Betamax (i.e. "Beta SP" (i.e. BetaCAM SP), "DigiBeta" (i.e. Digital BetaCAM) as well as HDCAM and HDCAM SR). Later developments also included larger-format cassette shells that certainly wouldn't fit inside anyone's home Betamax recorder!

Yes, Betacam enjoyed some success in the professional market (especially for portable use AFAIK), but it wasn't the same as Betamax, and it's rather silly to compare Betacam- an almost exclusively higher-end professional format against VHS, a domestic and low-end non-broadcast format.

Further, you say that "Beta" was "far more profitable than VHS". In percentage terms, Betacam probably *did* make more, but in absolute terms the professional market would have been absolutely dwarfed by domestic users, so I doubt either "Beta" made more money than VHS.

TL;DR VERSION:- OP confusing- intentionally or otherwise- the domestic "Betacam" and pro "Betamax" formats as being the same thing when they weren't.

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Re: Wow... What a crappy author!!!

10 TB is not THAT big.

If you have a 1 Gb port (it is't THAT expensive): about 2,3 hours, probably more 3,5 hours in real conditions.

If you use multicast you can transmit the movie without problems. Fiber networks ARE ok for the task.

Note: I think you would like to encapsulate the movie with correctable CRC.

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Done it again

Around the time that the LS-120 floppy disk had a chance of getting a mainstream market Sony dragged out a version of their own.

The LS-120 discs were so damned expensive that not many people could buy them. Added to that there were rumours about them that put people off, which weren't quashed becasue of the small number of actual users.

So, did Sony bring out a device that was competitive? Or one that was more reliable?

Something that would take the market by storm?

What do you think.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Done it again

The Sony device wasn't reliable- it had to be withdrawn and relaunched due to reliability issues (something I vaguely remember and Wikipedia confirms):-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sony_HiFD

By that time, writable CDs were starting to become affordable, so it wasn't going to happen...

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Re: Done it again

@AC

"The Sony device wasn't reliable- it had to be withdrawn and relaunched..."

Well, that's the point. The LS- format was struggling through high media prices and a few bad rumours, so Sony comes out with an alternative and promptly shoots itself in the foot.

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Sony is a media manufacturer, too

In addition to AIT and SAIT that always were niche products meant more to showcase their media manufacturing capabilities than to actually turn a huge profit. Sony OEMs a lot of LTO media and sells some under its own brand as well.

Nobody in their right mind ever suggested that Fujifilm would release a new tape format when they announced joint work on Barium Ferrite. Now they even dedicated a site to BaFe:

http://thefutureoftape.com/index.html

Sony stated that their technology would allow storing 74 more times data on a standard BaFe LTO-6 tape. Fujifilm demonstrated a 35 TB tape, Sony now claims they could manufacture tape up to 185 TB in the same format -- exactly 150 TB more.

Since Sony is a media supplier, they are naturally interested in being the chosen media provider. LTO Consortium decided to adopt BaFe for LTO-6 (and presumably LTO-7). If Sony plays this right, they can get the LTOC board to adopt this as media of choice for LTO-8 (and Oracle's T10000x, and presumably IBM's future 3592 drive) and then make money on licensing manufacturing to other media suppliers. Right now, all LTO-6 cartridges *must* be BaFe. Every cartridge sold is an extra solid profit for Fujifilm and Sony rightly wants to jump on that bandwagon.

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