The ability of an organization to develop, successfully launch and market a product is essential in the determination of the long run competitiveness of the firm (Benedetto & Crawford 2007, pp. 21).
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The outcome of a successful innovation process is the creation of a commercially successful product (Eppinger & Ulrich 2007, pp. 260). The features of the product should distinguish it from competitors’ products (Lehmann & Winer 2004, pp. 188).
This study focuses on the characteristics of the MiniDisc. Specifically, this paper focuses on the durability, portability and convenience of the MiniDisc.
It provides a brief history of the MiniDisc and discusses some of the technological features of the MiniDisc that made it a successful innovation.
Sony developed Walkman, which set music electronics’ industry standards and became a prominent design worldwide (Trott 2008, pp. 67). However, in mid 1980s, Walkman gradually lost the dominance it had in the market.
Sony increased model variations of Walkman to maintain the dominance it had in the market. Later, Sony decided to differentiate further. Consequently, it developed the MiniDisc. However, the MiniDisc faced competition even before its production began (Hill 1997, pp. 8).
Nevertheless, the MiniDisc gained momentum faster in the market. By 1996, approximately 3.5 million units of the MiniDisc had been sold worldwide. The strategy used by Sony, the technology used in the manufacture of MiniDisc and the integration of the two into the promotion strategy ensured success of the MiniDisc. However, it was not as successful as the Walkman.
MiniDisc combined portability and record ability features with superior sound quality and digital convenience associated with compact discs. Unfortunately, many individuals do not like to record audio at home.
A study done by Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association (CEMA) found that only 52% of people in the US who had stereo that had both CD and cassette decks recorded audio. Additionally, the study revealed that less than 20% of the people who had such stereos made records frequently (Christopher & Scaduto 1997, pp. 21).
Nonetheless, record ability made MiniDisc have an advantage over audio cassettes.
The MiniDiscs are exceptionally durable compared to cassettes. They are resistant to drops, shocks, scratches and vibrations. Furthermore, it is possible to erase and rerecord audio material in the MiniDiscs without sound quality being compromised.
Moreover, MiniDiscs allow one-second random selection of any music. Thus, they are convenient. The audio-compression technology used in the manufacture of MiniDisc enables MiniDiscs to accommodate almost an hour of digital music (Christopher & Scaduto 1997, pp. 21).
These distinctive features enabled Sony to develop competitive advantages. These advantages enabled the MiniDisc be unique and different from the Digital Compact Cassette (DCC) manufactured by Philips (Tan 2003, pp. 51).
Sony used Adaptive Transform Acoustic Coding (ATRAC) technology in the production of MiniDisc. This technology enabled audio compression. An equal amount of music contained in a 4.72-inch compact disc could be contained in a 2.5-inch MiniDisc.
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ATRAC has greater signal programming efficiency compared to the technology used in the manufacture of compact discs. ATRAC enables analysis of 16-bit data and examines the content of the waveform. The 16-bit linear technology does not do this analysis.
This makes the MiniDisc produce high quality audio. ATRAC identifies and removes audio signal components that lie beneath the threshold of sound perception.
The removal of the inaudible sounds does not affect the sound quality produced by the MiniDisc (Christopher & Scaduto 1997, pp. 21).
Additionally, Sony manufactured two different varieties of the MiniDiscs. Sony manufactured recordable MiniDiscs, magneto- optical MiniDiscs, and CD-type polycarbonate MiniDiscs. The polycarbonate MiniDiscs are for pre-recorded music.
The two types of MiniDiscs are similar. However, the recordable versions require systems that use magneto- optical technology. Magneto- optical technology enable data on the discs to be expunged and new materials be recorded at the same time (Christopher & Scaduto 1997, pp. 21).
Additionally, a single laser is used to erase old data and record new data. This makes the MiniDisc be of high quality.
Finally, the ability of MiniDiscs to withstand shocks and vibrations is an advantage. MiniDiscs’ systems benefit from vibration-proof memory that they have.
The ATRAC technology allows faster analysis of data. Conversely, MiniDiscs read data at a relatively slower rate. Therefore, a buffer of several seconds exists between the analysis of data and the pick-up of the data.
Thus, even if a shock occurs, the right audio message continues to be produced (Christopher & Scaduto 1997, pp. 21). The listener cannot easily recognize that a shock occurred.
Sony used the dominant features of Walkman in the creation of MiniDisc. This ensured immediate familiarity of the MiniDisc in the global market (Tan 2003, pp. 51).
Furthermore, the durability and high portability features of the MiniDisc ensured it became preferable to products of Sony’s rivals. The MiniDisc is also convenient due to its features.
The use of ATRAC and magneto- optical technologies in the manufacture of the MiniDiscs ensured that the quality of audio produced by the MiniDiscs is high. These qualities made MiniDiscs to be commercially viable and have competitive advantages.
List of References
Benedetto, A & Crawford, M 2007, New Products Management, McGraw Hill, Chicago.
Christopher, S & Scaduto, T 1997, “The MiniDisc Revisited”, Popular Electronics, vol. 14, no. 9, pp. 21.
Eppinger, S & Ulrich, K 2007, Product Design and Development, McGraw Hill, Boston.
Hill, C.W.L 1997, “Establishing a standard: Competitive strategy and technological standards in winner-take-all industries”, The Academy of Management Executive, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 7-25.
Lehmann, D & Winer, R 2004, Product Management, McGraw Hill, Chicago.
Tan, W 2003, “Factors affecting new product adoption in the consumer electronics industry”, Singapore Management Review, vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 51-51.
Trott, P 2008, Innovation Management and New Product Development, Prentice Hall, London.