With its historic introduction of regular, full scale high-definition television, Japan has ushered in a new era in mass communications. Japan also has graphically demonstrated that it's not just Americans who are capable of making egregious misjudgments of the market. Any nation can.
After more than a decade's effort, Japan, the world leader in consumer electronics, has brought out television sets that cost $30,000 each to show a picture made up of 1,125 lines of broadcast information. U.S. television uses 525 lines, so Japan's new system is an order of magnitude sharper. But not so in France, whose SECAM system has sent high-quality 819-line pictures for 20 years, and neither its sets nor the dual-system sets sold in Belgium, which also receive Germany's 625-line PAL TV signals, cost $30,000 each.
The Japanese government had projected conversion of 1.1 percent, or 1.32 million, of that country's 120 million television viewers to the high-definition system by now. But the 2,000 sets sold to date fall far short of that. Can't you see consumers in Osaka and Kyoto mumbling to themselves, "Nearly 4 million yen for a television set?"