This article provides an unusual insider's perspective on the
computer trade press and the professional video industries. The
"moral" to this story is "Don't believe everything
you read... especially in MacWeek." :)
Thanks to my friend, Mickey Mac, who prefers to remain anonymous,
for this contribution to Media Mall.
Monday July 12 MacWeek Headline:
Avid apologizes to Mac users by John Batteiger is the last
act to a farce that you may have watched without knowing it.
Act I - National Association of Broadcasters (NAB)
Las Vegas, Desert Inn Hotel
Avid Press Conference. It was a nice party with plenty of food and
drink. I sat in the front so I could hear. Others sat in the back
partying. I tape recorded and LISTENED CAREFULLY to all the announcements.
Finally, after long anticipation, a Windows-based Media Composer
XL was announced. In fact, it was announced that all Media Composers
would be phased out replaced by the new Media Composer XL family
of products on both Mac & NT. (Doesn’t sound like a "discontinuation"
as later reported in MacWeek to me.) While Version 8.0 was
announced for both Mac & NT, Version 9.0 was announced on the Media
Composer XL for NT product line available Q3. They did not do
this for the Mac line. In the past two years, they waited and made
that sort of announcement at the summer MacWorld something that
MacWeek should have noticed. When I was asked (by one of
those partying in the back) if Avid was abandoning of phasing out
the Mac platform, I said "No. The announcement of Mac upgrade will
come around the time of MacWorld." I also said that there were Mac-related
problems with the announcement. First, while Meridien will work
on the 9600 it’s supported, tested and ¬sellable - you will want
to upgrade to the G3 platform or switch to NT. As a result, the
ABVB-based products will soon be dumped and what will happen to
that technology? Secondly, if post facilities have to upgrade platforms
anyway, they may consider NT over G3 because it is a true multi-tasking/multi-processor
and it has more slots plus another problem upgrading to G3 is that
the G4 product soon to come out. Do you wait and wish for the available
toolset or do you upgrade twice? I also said that switching to Windows
is like abandoning your religious faith and beliefs.
To those that LISTENED there was no doubt that Avid would continue
to support the Mac, but that Avid wanted to save some announcements
for the later conventions especially when these products were
due out in the 3rd quarter anyway.
And as expected MacWeek did an excellent accurate story (April 20,
excites NAB crowd by Matthew Rothenberg.
Act II - On the potty reading a Wednesday April 21 Macweek.com
confirms shift to NT By Wendy J. Mattson. "There will be no
major release for Mac users of Avid Xpress Media Composer after
Version 8.0 ships"
I pondered. This doesn’t sound right. Does Tom Corn (director of
product marketing for Avid's Symphony software) mean "because everything
after that will be Media Composer XL and Xpress XL? Ms. Mattson
does not clarify? Why not? Does she understand the products?
Continuing: "What Mac users won't see are some advanced features"
This is a sensational scoop for Wendy and MacWeek! But why the major
policy change after announcing something different? Could Mattson
be confusing the Avid Symphony and D|S online systems as the high-end
(always NT products from their inception)? Could she have misunderstood
and Tom is implying that Symphony and D|S are going to remain the
highest-end products as they are now? If he means more than that,
Wendy is scoring BIG!!!
There was even something written by MacWeek that Unity will continue
to connect to Mac-based Avids. (Don’t they know that at the time
it was written, that was all the Unity connected to via fiber?!?!?)
Act III - Avid PR Offices
Terry Frechette has just replaced the incomparable Julia Miller
now in the products side of Avid. A hard act to follow but I know
he can do it. I reached him hiding in a bomb shelter. The fallout
over the MacWeek article is more intense then the bombing
of Baghdad in the last war.
I asked him if was true. His reply (between were they sobs?) was
"No! Of course it is not true! I thought I got this mess straightened
out and then TVB writes an article about it and everyone thinks
it is true again!" I think he muttered something like, "Oh GOD!
More incoming" and the telephone went dead.
Act IV - Tewksbury, MA
Avid released a press announcement: "An
Open letter to Avid's Macintosh Customers from CEO Bill Miller", where Bill apologizes for the confusion Avid has caused. Is this
apology because he didn’t treat the press like they were Pre-schoolers?
Did he give them too much credit for intelligence? Is he apologizing
for offering food and a social atmosphere prior to the announcements,
because certain "professional" journalists don’t know when to calm
down and pay attention? THIS IS AMAZING!!! He told the truth. Withheld
announcements that he did not want to make at this point in time,
and some are too dim-witted to understand what is going on. Then
they cause a riot and NOW MILLER, who did nothing wrong, apologizes.
He should apologize for allowing certain people into the Press Event
and allowing his senior management to interview with amateurs!
Act V - The Finale with an ironic twist.
July, 1999. Also released by Avid:
Avid Announces New Initiatives For its Macintosh-based
Professional Product Lines
Strangely enough, One week before MacWorld, a major flurry of Mac-based
Avid announcements. WHO WOULD HAVE GUESSED!? Ironically, remember
me mentioning the problem with dumping the ABVB-based products that
I predicted in Act I? Now they are half-priced. Be kind to customer
appreciation day? Strange how that worked out. Remember the concern
I mentioned at the beginning with the G4 about to come out? Also
announced the week before MacWorld: The Avid Media Composer "Millennium
Edition, this upcoming release is planned for mid-2000 and will
include the following enhancements: support for the upcoming G4
platform, additional AVX plug-ins, and Pan & Scan for video images."
MacWeek is patting itself on the back for forcing back the
tide. "It came nearly three months after the fact, but on Monday
the CEO of Avid Technology Inc. apologized to Macintosh users for
spreading confusion with its mid-April decision to scuttle development
of high-end video editing products for the Mac."
Amazingly, they still don’t acknowledge that they were wrong and
admit that there never was any plan to scuttle Mac-based video editing
development. They boost that Avid spread confusion when all the
time it was they! I have no knowledge how they got things so wrong,
but here is what I imagine: They were partying, stuffing their faces,
and only half listening. Then they thought they understood what
was going on, and got poor Tom Corn in the middle of the insanity
of NAB to do an interview (probably over a cell phone) and THEY
ASKED THE WRONG QUESTIONS BECAUSE they
did not understand the technology. That is what I think. Amazing
the trouble "journalists" can get into when they don’t really understand
what they are writing about.
I wonder if it was PR Specialist Terry Frechette hiding under his
desk who thought up the perfect coup: turning the chaos that MacWeek
caused into an apology that gives them an opportunity to announce
their plans for the old platform and the new products.
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