Last month, Avid’s Video Division announced a new product lineup and customer relations strategy, clarifying its announcement last November that it would not exhibit at the NAB Show this year.
(click thumbnail)Greg Estes“Based on customer input in the fall, Avid felt that engaging with customers primarily on the NAB trade show floor wasn’t conducive to the kind of dialogue we needed to have with them. So we have elected to invest in other activities instead,” said Greg Estes, chief marketing officer for Avid. “It all nets out to a lot of feedback that said ‘Avid, you need to change your approach.’ The result is this ‘New Thinking’ which is a whole series of actions about how we will be approaching the marketplace.”
Estes explained that the initiative has several components. Avid will be simplifying its editing product line and cutting in half the price of the software-only version of its flagship Media Composer NLE down to $2,495.
To consolidate its post-production product catalogue, Avid will merge Avid Xpress Pro software into the Media Composer line and offer a $495 pathway for existing Xpress Pro customers to upgrade to the higher-end Media Composer system. In addition to the price cut on the software version of Media Composer, a student price is being offered for only $295 to all accredited institutions.
Avid will continue selling Avid Xpress Pro software through the end of Q2 2008, and offer support through March 17, 2013. However, the company will no longer sell support contracts or offer any further software upgrades for Avid Xpress Pro.
There will also be a significant enhancement to Avid’s online customer support interface with a redesigned Web tool at support.avid.com that will provide more personalized answers to product and service queries 24/7. Avid says it reviewed more than 10,000 pieces of content prior to launching the new site.
“This is not just a new series of product announcements,” Estes said. “We are making an honest effort to increase the value we are providing our customers, improve our service, and take on the role of ‘Steward of the Industry’ that reflects our position in video post production.”
Avid’s withdrawal from exhibiting at NAB comes after a year of management changes with the original leadership’s heritage of video production experience being replaced by business management experts. Last December, Gary Greenfield was named the new chairman of the board and chief executive officer after having served since 2003 as CEO of GXS, a leading worldwide provider of business-to-business integration. In February, Kirk Arnold became executive vice president and general manager of the company’s professional video business unit. Kirk was previously CEO of Keane, a provider of business transformation and outsourcing services.
A ‘POSITIVE RECOGNITION’
Tom Ohanian, one of the members of the original founding team of Avid, and co-inventor of the Avid Media Composer and Avid Film Composer, said, “Any time a company acknowledges that there is a disparity between where the company is headed and where their client base is going is great news for both sides. This is a very positive recognition that the customer end-user relationship has been lax in the past. Media Composer software is a fantastic product and its price decrease will help Avid reach out to a wider customer base and a younger group of users.”
However, this new direction has led some in the industry to question the extent of Avid’s continuing commitment to retaining video as its core business model.
“This is a big move for Avid, but I feel it is too little, too late,” said Terence Curren, founder of The Editors’ Lounge, the largest user group of Avid systems in Hollywood. “It’s something they should have done four years ago because by now they have given away such a large market share to other, competing post production system and they will never get that back.”
Curren is also president of Alphadogs, a post facility in Burbank that extensively uses both Avid and Apple systems. “The $2,495 price for the software-only version of Avid’s Media Composer is a good price, but when compared with all of the applications included in Apple’s Final Cut Studio 2 at just $1,299 it still becomes a little hard to justify. Of course, Media Composer does come with unique functionalities such as ScriptSync and their color corrector is integrated directly into the Media Composer editing time line. Still, there is a whole younger generation of editors who are growing up with the less expensive Final Cut Pro on their home desktops.”
Avid does plan to have a presence in Las Vegas during the NAB time frame. They will also be a sponsor of the PBS Technology Conference (not affiliated with the NAB Show), April 9-11, at the Las Vegas Convention Center.