It may seem odd to even think about the VHS vs Beta format war in this day and age, but I think there is still a lot to be learned from it.
One of my all time favorite quotes has so many applications in the world:
“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”
As big as the first format war became in the 1970s, you would think there wouldn’t be a person in the tech industry who thinks about it when they see another one brewing. Yet, Blu-ray vs HD-DVD shows thats it can happen again. Or, what about LTE vs WiMax if you want a mobile industry example? Sprint is now having to play catch-up with all of the other carriers because it backed the wrong horse.
Think it can’t happen again? Trust me, it will, and it already is in some ways. Downloadable digital copies vs UltraViolet? While not quite as head-to-head as some of these other fights, it’s definitely a similar creature.
And sadly, it is always the consumer that ends up the victim in these fights. Either you back the wrong format, or you end up paying a higher price when the remaining format has no competition. Format wars don’t benefit anyone, but yet they keep happening. No matter how much history tells us its a bad idea, my gut tells me we will just continue to see it happen.