The Digital 8 Camcorder and Other Oddities

The latest battle between Blu-ray and HD DVD was just the most recent in a long line of rivalries; the most notable of which was the Digital 8 camcorder.

Sony's Betacam media format; what happened to it?
Format wars aren't new. The original camcorder format war took place between Sony's Betamax camcorder media and JVC's VHS-C media format. JVC's format took off spectacularly, with VHS tapes capable of being viewed in VCRs that could be found in a growing number of American households. Sony never managed to gain significant market share with Betamax, so it worked on developing Digital 8 camcorders as the next competition against VHS.

The next generation of failed camcorders: Video 8 and Hi8.
Video 8 and Hi8 camcorders were Sony's next attempt to fight JVC's VHS-C media format. Video 8 and Hi8 camcorders boasted longer recording times than Betamax camcorders, and could theoretically rival the VHS-C format in terms of efficacy. Unfortunately, by the time Hi 8 camcorders came out, JVC had captured 70% of the market share with the VHS format, so Sony couldn't gain ground. The two formats eventually declared a stalemate, and Sony's format didn't take off like the company had hoped.

Digital 8 camcorders, and why they didn't take.
Digital 8 camcorders were Sony's next generation, and they were a sort of hybrid between Hi8 and Mini DV camcorders. In some ways, Digital 8 camcorders were actually superior to their Mini DV counterparts. The optical zoom on Digital 8 camcorders was better, and Digital 8 camcorders record more information simultaneously than Mini DV, resulting in better video quality.

Like Sony's other camcorder formats, Digital 8 camcorders failed to capture enough market share to make them a viable media format. Mini DV had a significant head start on Digital 8, and Sony wasn't effective at capturing significant market share. Other manufacturers did make Digital 8 camcorders, most notably Hitachi, but they didn't catch on in the widespread sales that Sony had hoped. Eventually, Hitachi abandoned the Digital 8 camcorder format, and Sony was left with yet another failed format.

More failed camcorder formats: MicroMV.
Sony didn't give up after its previous failed attempts to break into a large segment of the camcorder market. Sony introduced the MicroMV format in 2001, hoping its size would woo consumers and help them capture a more significant market share. Smaller than both Mini DV and Hi8, MicroMV uses MPEG-2 compression instead of the popular DV format favored by other camcorders. Sony was the only company to manufacture MicroMV camcorders, and abandoned new models in 2006, losing yet another format war.

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