Perception is False

Perceptions are often untrue.

I’ve often lived with that belief that perceptions, especially general perceptions, are generally untrue. Today, I had the opportunity to meet someone who was showing off a new product in Malaysia. The product was a special mechanism to protect CD/DVD media from scratches. I won’t go into how the thing actually works as I’m not sure if I’m allowed to talk freely about it. However, after being shown the product, I pointed out that it was protecting the wrong side of the disc. Everyone stared at me (me and my big mouth).

You see, the product is designed to protect the clear side of the disc, which often gets scratched if we do not properly care for our discs (or if there are any pesky nieces/nephews around). Anyway, I merely pointed out that the clear plastic side does not actually need protection. What needs protection is the side with the art-work on it. To understand why, all you need to do is go back to how these optical discs work. Essentially, the side that actually holds the data is the painted side, not the plastic side.

If the plastic side is scratched, it will still work fine in most disc drives. This is because of special fault tolerant mechanisms that are built into the drives. As long as the errors stay below a certain bit error rate threshold, everything is fine and dandy. Even if it is badly scratched, a good polish will help recover the readability of the data. If you visit the pre-owned game stores in the UK, they actually grind/polish the disc before selling it to you. However, if the art-work side is scratched, it is nigh impossible to recover the data. It is gone forever.

However, I did point out that the product could still possible sell because it solves a perceived problem – not a real one. Most people do not know that they actually need to protect the art-work side and not the plastic side. So, we asked how much the product was going to sell for. Turns out that it will cost much more than a pirated disc. That’s when I kept my mouth shut. Nobody in Malaysia is going to spend money on a disc protection system that costs more than purchasing a pirated disc.

Published by

Shawn Tan

Chip Doctor, Chartered Engineer, Entrepreneur, Law Graduate.

One thought on “Perception is False”

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