Changes At The Helm At Adobe and Avid Reveal Changes In Strategy

Avid, the company that has long dominated the non-linear editing pinnacle, is also struggling—in a much more public way—with its grasp on the market and with the effects of its CEO leaving earlier this year. The news that shocked that portion of the industry—and may have some interesting implications for the streaming media space—is Avid’s announcement that it was pulling out of its annual massive display at the 2008 National Association of Broadcasters show.

The mid-2007 departure of long-time CEO, David Krall, who had come to Avid with the company’s acquisition of Digidesign and had given the company a much-needed shot of levity that Digidesign was famous for but Avid sorely lacked, seems to have set the company adrift again. Recurring complaints, eerily similar to the same customer complaints of an arrogant and listless company, re-emerged in late 2007 but had roots in NAB 2006 when Final Cut Studio surged while Avid ignored or belittled the competition.

Whatever the reason, Avid’s November announcement of its decision to forego exhibiting at NAB, along with its announcement that it wouldn’t reveal its plans until February 2008, make the company look like it’s scrambling to return to the halcyon days of innovative, market-leading product announcements.

"Over the past few months, we’ve been collecting data from all of our constituents, and the findings have been clear—we need to connect with users in new ways," said Graham Sharp, vice president and general manager of Avid’s Video division. "We are always evaluating the most effective ways to build closer relationships with our customers and keep pace with the ever-changing media market."

An inkling into some of those changes—beyond Avid getting back to a place where customers feel the company will listen to them—might be gleaned from a statement made at the time of Krall’s departure.

"David has been instrumental in transforming Avid Technology’s business—and keeping it at the forefront of the digital media revolution," said then-Chairman Pamela Lenehan, noting that, via acquisitions like Pinnacle Systems, Krall had been able to "enter the consumer video and audio markets . . . establishing a rich foundation upon which the company can build an even brighter future."

The market base for these consumer products—and user-generated or social networking products that Avid might wish to pursue as the face of video post-production (and even its profitable news business) changes—is just as likely to choose Apple or Avid for their core tools, especially as these two companies provide compelling product suites that Avid sorely lacks. One thing’s for certain: Early 2008 will prove a pivotal time not just for streaming and video on the web, but also for two major players in what’s being dubbed the Triple A of video postproduction.

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