How Many Editing Markets Are There?

In the early ’90s, Avid triumphed against all competitors and democratized the editing world in the first non-linear revolution. But it didn’t do nearly as well in the second revolution that began around 2000. Apple saw that software-only systems were going to become increasingly powerful, so they cut prices and offered a swiss-army-knife product that undercut Avid’s business model. And they sold systems to people Avid didn’t even know were potential customers.

Meanwhile, Avid focused on the high end, aiming its new products at large installations with hundreds of systems. Today, Final Cut easily beats MC on market share, and looks like the rebel’s choice. But it just hasn’t caught on in Hollywood, and nearly everybody who has tried it has either come back to Media Composer or has made their peace with a product that they acknowledge as at least partially inferior. Yes, you can get the job done, and yes it’s cheaper (especially for HD) but no, for longform work, it ain’t better. And Avid’s technical support and training apparatus, warts and all, is head and shoulders above Apple’s.

The question now, is where Avid goes next. They can and should build on their deep connections with high-end editors. They’ve done way too little for creative editing over the last decade and by presenting Apple with a static target they’ve given them a huge opening. That has to be fixed.

They’ve also got to cement their strategy for their high-end corporate customers. I haven’t used Interplay but I’ve seen it demonstrated several times, and it seems awfully “version 1” to me.

But what about the rest of the editing world, the folks Apple has been cultivating? If you like, you can divide that world into two parts: consumers and, for want of a better word, independents. Avid has not been able to articulate a compelling vision for either of these groups. For consumers, Avid chose to buy their way to market share with Pinnacle Studio. For independents, they’ve been promoting Xpress Pro with only partial success.

Does Avid need these customers? Or should they just let them go and focus on the high end? My view is that the editing world is becoming more and more unitary and interdependent. I don’t think Avid will succeed selling Interplay to facilities doing offline with Final Cut, and independents won’t want to learn a new interface if they come to Hollywood. Consumers who want to graduate to something more capable will want to stay with the same brand and interface conventions they started with.

Avid needs to articulate a vision that speaks to all these markets. The product line that wins scales naturally with different buying segments, keeps prices low, and, critically important, inspires all customers to be as creative as possible. With its many acquisitions, Avid now has the pieces in place to envision that product line, but it has to actually build it — reinventing many of the applications, making the interface consistent and ensuring that projects and media can easily be moved up the price ladder. It has to start working as one company, focused on one vision for the future of editing — for everybody.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Avid, Avid vs. Final Cut, Consumer Editing, Workflow

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