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Commentaries and Criticisms with Attitute

MacWeek Creates a Farce
Victory or Disgrace?
The Truth about Avid and the Mac

by Mickey Mac

[Editor's Note:
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.
.........................................-- Jon]

The 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 œ 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 œ 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 œ 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 œ 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 œ especially when these products were due out in the 3rd quarter anyway.

And as expected MacWeek did an excellent accurate story (April 20, 1999) Avid excites NAB crowd by Matthew Rothenberg.

Act II - On the potty reading a Wednesday April 21 printout
HOLY SH**!!!

The headline: Avid 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 featuresž" 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 œ 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 ž 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."

The Review:
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 œ 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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