Is iOS the new VHS in VHS & Beta War?

I’ve been working with media since the early 80’s. Those of us who have been around that long will remember the debate of Beta vs. VHS tapes. They were two video tape formats that were incompatible. Although Beta, backed by Sony, was technically superior to VHS, VHS tapes won. I recall seeing the death of Beta come when Sony started selling VHS video tape. So, why did VHS win when it wasn’t as good as Beta? One word: VOLUME.  Consumers had embraced the VHS tape, cameras and recorders/players. Eventually the market for Beta tape technology dried up.


Can the same thing be said about the iPad? Would you consider, previous to iPad3, to be the VHS of the mobile market?  Some of the knocks against iOS devices is that:

  • iOS system is locked down pretty tight compared to Android or RIM
  • You need to plug the iOS device into a computer to start it up.
  • You need to install iTunes to get the full benefit of the device.
  • To upgrade the iOS, you have to plug it into a computer.
  • You “have to” go through their app store to sell apps.
  • There are a lot more hoops you have to jump through to get your your developers certificate, your provision file and your signing certificate
  • You also have to submit your app to be approved before it goes onto the iTunes store.
  • Then there’s the fact that Apple takes 30% of the selling price for themselves while the other markets tend to be free.


Yet, with so many restrictions, the iOS devices are the single most popular tablet/phone and music player in the world. Apple has also become one of the most profitable companies in United States. Although there are restrictions for developers, the quality of the apps, in most cases, tends to be better.


So it looks like the “VHS” system (of the mobile world) is winning again. I don’t see Android going the way of Beta, but they have their work cut out to catch up. I’m looking forward to seeing how some of the giants respond to the new iPad standards. We’re living in technologically good times.


So, what are your thoughts? Which system works best for you?

You can follow Phil on Twitter at @CanadianPacMan

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