Marketing Management

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The rise of personal computers in the mid 1980s spurred interest in computer games. This caused a crash in home Video game market. Interest in Video games was rekindled when a number of different companies developed hardware consoles that provided graphics superior to the capabilities of computer games. By 1990, the Nintendo Entertainment System dominated the product category. Sega surpassed Nintendo when it introduced its Genesis System. By 1993, Sega commanded almost 60 per cent of Video game market and was one of the most recognized brand names among the children. Sega’s success was short lived. In 1995, Saturn (a division of General Motors) launched a new 32-bit system. The product was a miserable failure for a number of reasons. Sega was the primary software developer for Saturn and it did not support efforts by outside game developers to design compatible games. In addition, Sega’s games were often delivered quite late to retailers. Finally, the price of the Saturn system was greater than other comparable game consoles. This situation of Saturn’s misstep benefited Nintendo and Sony greatly. Sony’s Play Station was unveiled in 1994 and was available in 70 million homes worldwide by the end of 1999. Its “Open design” encouraged the efforts of o utside developers, resulting in almost 3,000 different games that were compatible with the PlayStation. It too featured 32-bit graphics that appealed to older audience. As a result, at one time, more than 30 per cent of PlayStation owners were over 30 years old. Nintendo 64 was introduced in 1996 and had eye-popping 64-bit graphics and entered in more than 28 million homes by 1999. Its primary users were between the age of 6 and 13 as a result of Nintendo’s efforts to limit the amount of violent and adult-oriented material featured on games that can be played on its systems. Because the company exercised considerable control over software development, Nintendo 64 had only one-tenth the number of compatible games as Sony’s PlayStation did. By 1999, Sony had captured 56 per cent of the video game market, followed by Nintendo with 42 per cent. Sega’s share had fallen to a low of 1%. Hence, Sega had two options, either to concede defeat or introduce an innovative video machine that would bring in huge sales. And Sega had to do so before either Nintendo or Sony could bring their next-generation console to market. The Sega Dreamcast arrived in stores in September 1999 with an initial price tag of $199. Anxious gamers placed 300,000 advance orders, and initial sales were quite encouraging. A total of 1.5 million Dreamcast machines were bought within the first four months, and initial reviews were positive. The 128-bit system was capable of generating 3-D visuals, and 40 different games were available within three months of Dream cast’s introduction. By the end of the year, Sega had captured a market share to 15 per cent. But the Dreamcast could not sustain its momentum. Although its game capabilities were impressive, the system did not deliver all the functionality Sega had promised. A 56K modem (which used a home phone line) and a Web browser were meant to allow access to the Internet so that gamers could play each other online, surf the Web, and visit the Dreamcast Network for product information and playing tips. Unfortunately, these features either were not immediately available or were disappointing in their execution. Sega was not the only one in having the strategy of adding functionality beyond games. Sony and Nintendo followed the same approach for their machines introduced in 1999. Both Nintendo’s Neptune and Sony’s PlayStation 2 (PS2) were built on a DVD platform and featured a 128-bit processor. Analysts applauded the move to DVD because it is less expensive to produce and allows more storage than CDs. It also gives buyers the ability to use the machine as CD music player and DVD movie player. As Sony marketing director commented, “The full entertainment offering from Pl ay...
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