After the second world war, the introduction of televisions opened way for the technological innovation of video recording. In the 1950s, there were major inventions in the video recording industry in the US and Japan. This case study involves the technological advancement in the video cassette recorders (VCRs) manufacturing industries. Six pioneering companies will be considered, namely; RCA and Ampex of USA, Japan Victor Company (JVC) and Sony, Toshiba and Matsushita all of Japan. JVC, Sony and Matsushita had the competitive advantage of management in this industry.
They emphasized on opportunities that were more rewarding, productively positioned their technical efforts and executed these efforts in more productively. These companies learnt the market technological demands for videocassette recorders and produced in mass at limited costs. To prove their technological competence, these firms produced equipment with utmost sound clarity and consistently adhered to this. JVC was under pressure to come up with a common standard for its products which led to the advent of VHS system. RCA engineers came up with a video recording machine moving a narrow tape very fast past magnetic heads.
At Toshiba, a recording head was made to rotate fast while the tape moved past at relatively slow speed (helical scanner). Despite these efforts, Ampex was the first to come up with a commercial video recorder. This VTR technology was patented but was soon shared out to other companies like RCA. Ampex failed to come up with a manufacturing capability for mass production despite the high performance designs. Ampex engineers opened up the helical scanner technology for broadcast recorder but Sony, JVC and Matsushita overtook them in this technology.
RCA suggested the introduction of a television magnetic tape player but this was not considered by the management until later in 1958 in the design of VTR. Sony did not employ the method of market research but instead chose to insist on high technology and innovation. In 1950, Sony introduced the first Japanese magnetic recorder for sound and tape, followed by a TV camera and stereo tape recorder. In 1961, it unveiled the first fully transistorized VTR in the world. Matsushita was a diverse company dealing with a range of electrical appliances. To beat this company’s success, the rivals developed cheaper appliances.
The diversities in technology led to a need for international standards to govern this. Sony wanting to outdo its foreign rivals collaborated with JVC and Matsushita in the establishment of ? inch tape cassettes. Sony, JVC and Matsushita made strategic management of technology by learning through trials. These companies were persistent and flexible. Ampex and RCA in America lacked consistency in their strategic direction making them fail to sustain technical development. The Japanese companies had stable technical teams which ensured stability in the organization.
Top managers were involved in making critical decisions. Ampex VTR organization was however marred with instability (Rosenbloom & Cusumano, 1987). The basic VCR technology originated from the US and Europe although the Japanese industries have been successful in the industry. The success attributed to the Japanese industries was achieved by more improvements on the basic technology rather than just copying what the West had to offer. The advent of transistors, semiconductors and microchips greatly boosted the electronic industry in Japan.
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