Blu-Ray and HD DVD: Betamax - VHS 'Format Wars' Redux?

Blu-Ray and HD DVD: Betamax - VHS 'Format Wars' Redux?
Case Code: BSTR230
Case Length: 22 Pages
Period: 1975-2006
Pub Date: 2006
Teaching Note: Available
Price: Rs.400
Organization: Sony Corp.
Industry: Electricals and Electronics
Countries: USA
Themes: Marketing, Strategic Alliances, Diffusion of Innovation, Competitive Strategies
Blu-Ray and HD DVD: Betamax - VHS 'Format Wars' Redux?
Abstract Case Intro 1 Case Intro 2 Excerpts


Sony, a leading multinational electronics company, had always been at the forefront of technological innovation. However, in spite of its prowess in research and development, some of the company's technologies failed to become industry standards in the face of competition from technologies developed by rival firms. The case starts with an analysis of the reasons behind Sony's failure to establish its Betamax format as the industry standard against the VHS technology developed by JVC. It then describes Sony's contribution to the evolution of DVD technology, leading up to the development of Blu-ray. The case compares the actions taken by Sony in the 1980s to promote its Betamax technology, with its current efforts to get Blu-ray accepted as the standard.


The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives

  • Recognize the importance of marketing and alliances in popularizing new technologies
  • Understand the influence of market forces in the adoption of new technologies
  • Analyze the factors that delay or quicken the rate of diffusion of innovation
  • Compare and contrast the strategies adopted by a company at two different points in time, to popularize its technology and products



Blu-ray and HD-DVD, Betamax and VHS, Video format war, Strategic alliances in the electronics industry, Diffusion of innovation, Sony and Blu-ray, Technology adoption, Playstation 3 and Blu-ray, VAIO and Blu-ray

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