Many people around the world went to movie theaters over the holidays (and continue to do so in early 2016). If you’ve seen Star Wars Episode VII, you recall that the movie promotes that it is” PRESENTED IN DOLBY VISION AND DOLBY ATMOS!”
I recall when Dolby Laboratories ‘Surround Sound ‘came into prominence in the 1980’s (1982 to be specific but I had to look that up http://www.dolby.com/us/en/about/history.html) and that the company was founded in the 1960’s by Ray Dolby who passed away in 2013 – video here http://www.dolby.com/us/en/about/leadership/ray-dolby.html.
That Dolby has maintained a market presence for some 50 plus years overall and not only that but has remained a relevant force is more impressive than you might think. Back in the 1980’s a musician named himself Thomas Dolby – a sure sign of respect for what was at the time a singular technology. I could not even name a competitor in the field then or now for that matter.
I think the history is interesting:
1965: Dolby founded in London.
1966: Dolby creates first product to reduce noise in music recordings.
1971: A Clockwork Orange is the first film to use Dolby noise reduction.
1976: Dolby moves headquarters to San Francisco.
1977: Star Wars opens with Dolby Stereo®.
1982: Dolby creates surround sound for the home.
1989: Ray Dolby and Ioan Allen awarded Oscars® for contributions to cinema sound.
1992: Batman Returns is the first movie to be released in Dolby Digital.
1996: Dolby receives Scientific and Engineering Award from AMPAS for design and development of Dolby Digital sound system.
1998: First live HDTV broadcast with 5.1-channel Dolby Digital audio.
1999: Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace debuts in Dolby Surround EX.
2004: Primetime Emmy® Award presented by NATAS to Dolby for outstanding achievement in engineering development.
2005: Dolby completes initial public offering.
2006: New Korean office opens in Asia, joining offices in Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong.
2010: Dolby Professional Reference Monitor PRM-4200 is awarded TV Technology Mario Award.
2012: Dolby acquires rights to Dolby Theatre®.
2012: Dolby reinvents cinema sound with Dolby Atmos®.
2013: Dolby enters business communications with Dolby Voice®.
2014: Dolby launches Dolby Vision™.
2014: Dolby launches Dolby Cinema™.
2015: Ray Dolby receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
2015: Dolby wins two Daytime Emmys for its work with Silent.
So what about competition? Dolby’s main competitor is DTS. In the past, Dolby was the standard audio formatting for DVDs, while DTS was relegated to another supported position, but the growing popularity of Blu-Ray, which must support both Dolby and DTS audio formats, means that Dolby no longer has had a monopoly over the market for home theater audio.
Dolby Labs is a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ and has a market cap of more than $3.1 billon. DTS also trades publicly but is much smaller with a market cap just over $365 million. Not exactly a tight competition.
To me Dolby Labs and their products have stood for high quality sound for more than thirty years. Talk about maintaining your brand’s equity! There’s an object lesson here.