Will Strauss gives his reaction to a new Avid business plan that will see the company slash the price of software and look to develop its online community.

This week Avid announced a number of new initiatives. All of which have merit. When I heard them, I had a few thoughts of my own. I will share them with you.

Before I get to those, here are brief bullets summing up Avid's new plans:

  • Avid is halving the price of Media Composer software to£1590

  • It is merging Media Composer with Xpress pro

  • Because of the above, Xpress Pro will no longer exist

  • New - and very cheap - Media Composer pricing for students is available

  • A new community website has been launched

  • There is improved customer service on offer

Here are my thoughts:

1. The new pricing for Media Composer brings the software more into line with Apple's Final Cut Pro.
OK, this one isn't rocket science. Final Cut Studio sells for£850. Any reduction will level the playing field slightly.

2. The competition between FCP and Avid is as much a battle of cultures, as it is a battle of products.
As Avid's chief marketing officer Greg Estes said to the US press: "Avid doesn't necessarily see themselves as a “one on one competitor” with Apple. Avid is more focused on the we, as in collaboration, while Apple is more the I, as in a single user."

Which is all true because, with Final Cut Studio, you can do all sorts of other things - such as DVD authoring and sound mixing - in the same box, so to speak

3. Getting rid of Xpress Pro makes sense.
It was Diet Media Composer and lacked oomph.

4. But dropping Xpress Pro means that Avid has actually increased the entry point for their software.
OK, this is a slightly negative spin but Xpress Pro cost about a grand, while the Media Composer will now start at£1500. People buying their first bit of NLE software now have to find another£500 to go down the Avid route.

5. Things have got very cheap, very quickly.
I can recall a typical Media Composer set-up - with breakout boxes etc - costing£30k. Now, you get vastly improved versions of the same thing for£1500.

6. The user community thing is more important than it sounds.
An editor friend of mine reckons this is the really interesting bit. Avid has been renowned for not providing enough tips and tricks, techniques etc. This new site encourages people to upload training videos. It will make a huge difference.

7. Will Avid ever add Kona or Decklink card support?
Just an idea.

8. Is this week's announcement a precursor to a move that will see more 3rd party hardware used with Media Composer?
That would be something that could appeal to small post houses, editors, indies etc.

9 and 10. Avid is still the professional standard around the world
Regardless of how good FCP is - or how many films or TV shows are cut on it - Avid still rules the NLE world.

The new announcements - coming as they do just prior to an NAB at which the company will not appear - are timely, well thought out and justified. But, you've got to wonder whether they will have the necessary impact.

To my mind it is not about the battle with Apple. But about the relationship the company has with its customers. If the community site and improved customer support deliver what they promise, Avid will succeed in reinvigorating its brand. Because that is what its customers want. If the emphasis is put on starting a price war with Apple, it may not.

What did you think of Avid's announcement? Have your say below.