It’s been a hard few years for Avid. Once the king of non linear editors and the go to hardware solution for television and film, the computer based editing company has fallen on hard times thanks to the PC revolution. What can Avid do to stay live? We have a few ideas …
Avid has tried to hard to be competitive by embracing the consumer business model, but at the end of the day, they couldn’t reverse the hemorrhaging and so, yesterday they announced the sale of their consumer assets (M-Audio and Pinnacle Systems). On top of that, they’ve also laid off roughly 30 percent of their employees (10% last november and 20% yesterday), and hope that their professional line of software, which includes ProTools, will keep the flagging company afloat. But what else can Avid do?
1. Double Down on the ProTools Brand. ProTools may be the only product that’s keeping Avid from foundering for good. Sure, Avid will always be able to service their broadcast and professional lines, but it’s the consumer divisions that are where the profits are. But since Avid has killed that Goose with the golden eggs, why not double down on ProTools and create a line of prosumer tools with the ProTools brand? Sure, the Philip Blooms of the world won’t buy into it, but there’s gold in “them thar” prosumer hills and turning ProTools in the Craftsman of the video world could actually work. And it would support the ProTools software line with accessories designed to take advantage of it’s capabilities.
2. Go Open Source. Lightworks made a huge splash last year when it was introduced as a free video editor. Course, it helped that it was used to cut an Academy Award film or two. But the Open Source, and free software is parlaying that momentum into a “Freeium” business model which would provide the editor for free, and then subscription support with annual renewal. If it can work for Lightworks, surely Avid could use it to support a stripped down version of their professional NLEs.
3. Stay Mobile. Frankly, we think it was a huge mistake to sell off the Avid Video editor for iPad. From what we’ve seen, it’s a great and simple interface for putting together video’s. And with more and more people getting into movie making with mobile tools, Avid had a niche it could’ve taken tremendous advantage of. Maybe they could’ve added an effects app, a color grader, and more. A suite of mobile apps, especially in the near non existent Android marketplace, could’ve brought in a lot of black to that bottom line that’s been showing red the last couple of years.
4. Go to the Cloud. Adobe is doing an interesting thing, catering to the short term needs of clients by offering a cloud based subscription to their suite of professional products. For a monthly fee, members can use everything from Adobe Premiere Pro to After Effects to Audition and beyond. Thing is, Avid is already onto this with Interplay Sphere (which works with both Media Composer and NewsCutter ) as their Cloud video editing utility. But why not throw open the gates further? This may be a good move for Avid as they could come out with more cloud based solutions, slap the ProTools name on it for branding and it would likely appeal to those who would like the power of ProTools, but without the heavy investment.
5. Go the Polaroid route. In many ways, Polaroid is very similar to Avid, having complete domination in the instant print field, only to see that dominance shrink exponentially thanks to digital imaging. Unable to carve a niche or even compete in the digital world, Polaroid realized their biggest asset was their brand. And so now, the instant print camera company is just a licensing concern, slapping their name on everything from smartphones to light bulbs. (Editor’s note: is Kodak next to go the “license its brand” route?) Sure, they will license a few instant print digital models, which are kitchy and interesting, but at the end of the day, the name is what’s they’re in business with. Avid could do the same thing by trading their professional street cred and slapping it on ProSumer products.
At the end of the day, it’s hard to think of a professional world without Avid. It spawned the computer based revolution of video editing. And we don’t think it’ll ever really die as long as their Avid fans cutting with their products. But to restore that glory, something has to be done. (Editor’s note: As I told James earlier, what happens if and when Avid cuts their R&D? How much innovation can we expect if that happens?)