Tuesday, December 20, 2011

(empo-tuulwey) Verizon Wireless demonstrates why I launched the "empo-tuulwey" series on this blog

My blog platform, Blogger, includes a facility called "labels" which functions similarly to the tags used in other applications. Blogger labels allow me to create series of posts that address a particular subject.

One of the first labels that I began using was a label with the name "empo-tuulwey." (Other posts in the Empoprise-BI business blog in the "empo-tuulwey" category can be found here.) The "empo-tuulwey" category can be summed up in the simple statement

A tool is not a way of life.

I've recently run across an example of the opposing view - the view that a tool IS a way of life. Verizon Wireless is running an ad campaign (example here) which uses the slogan

The Business with the Best Technology Rules

Now I'm not going to discount great technology entirely, but anyone with half a brain realizes that great technology is only a small part of business success. And I can provide an example from...well, from Verizon Wireless. Courtesy an August 10 Reuters story:

Verizon Communications' (VZ.N) new high-speed fiber optic network will never make as much money as its old copper network, an executive said on Wednesday.

[CIO Fran] Shammo cited fierce competition in the TV market as well as high-fees for digital content as reasons why FiOS will not be as profitable as its legacy service.

Another example is the competition between Sony and JVC in the videotape market. Sony was first in the market, with its Betamax technology. JVC followed a year later with its technology, called VHS. Many argue that Betamax was the better technology; thus, if you follow the wisdom of Verizon Wireless, Betamax should have won.

As some of you older folks know, Betamax lost that war. Dave Owen lists a number of reasons why VHS won:

VHS machines were initially much simpler and cheaper to manufacture, which would obviously be an attraction to companies deciding which standard to back....

For consumers, the most immediately obvious difference between the two formats was the recording length. Standard Betamax tapes lasted 60 minutes — not long enough to record a movie. Conversely, the 3-hour VHS tapes were perfect for recording television programmes and movies. Sony did adapt and offer various solutions for longer recording, but it was too late. The issue of recording time is often cited as the most defining factor in the war.

And some (but not all) people claim that there was another differentiator:

There is a claim that adult content was not available on Betamax (possibly because Sony would not allow it) while it was becoming readily available on VHS. Whether or not this was really a factor is a contentious topic.

But Owen did find agreement on another item:

At some point and for some reason the choice of rental movies on VHS became better than Betamax. It is arguable how this situation came to be, but once it happened, there was no turning back. Bitter Betamax owners cringed in their ever-decreasing corner of the video store while VHS owners gloated.

Betamax is often cited as the prime example of why technology doesn't always rule. And it certainly serves to demonstrate that success is usually dependent upon a number of different factors, including chance.
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