CEO Tim Thorsteinson Promises 'Renewed Focus' on Product Strategies in a 'Difficult' 2013

Grass Valley announced a new release of its GV Stratus system, which it now describes as a "nonlinear production solution." It includes new automated rules-based file operations and Edius XS, a low-resolution proxy editor that shares most of the effects capability of full-resolution Edius systems, allowing more parts of the production workflow to be offloaded to lower-res edit stations.
Discussing the system at a press briefing this morning, Grass Valley Chief Marketing Officer Graham Sharp was eager to clarify that Stratus is "not a MAM," or media asset management system. While Stratus can be integrated with a MAM as needed for a given facility or project workflow, Sharp said customers are moving away from enterprise-wide MAMs. Instead, he described Stratus as an application framework that will help users combine different production and distribution functions on a single platform. It's focused on workgroups for news, live events and playout, with about 1500 user seats sold into the market. 
More features are in the beta-testing phase, including enhanced web publishing features and the ability to create connections through which multiple Stratus sites can browse each other's content and manage transfers. 
Software Innovation and the Slow Economy
Speaking more generally about Grass Valley's plans for 2013, new CEO Tim Thorsteinson, who returns to the job after holding it nearly 10 years ago, promised a new strategy that would see fewer products being released, but with better focus from the engineering team and thus faster times to market. As it stands, Thorsteinson said, Grass Valley isn't making enough of its revenue from products released in the last 24 months, and he'd like to see that change.
Thorsteinson also noted that Grass Valley has already pretty much completed a transition from a hardware engineering company to a software engineering company that relies on smart programming to take advantage of relatively inexpensive, off-the-shelf hardware. "As processing power continues to increase, more and more hardware will be commoditized," he told reporters. "But the software we develop is where our value is today." He mentioned the possibility of strategic acquisitions, where they make sense for the company.
Among the challenges facing the company, he said, is a general economic malaise facing the industry in 2013. "I expect 2013 will be a difficult year," Thorsteinson said. "In the second half of 2012, there was a big drop-off in revenue for everybody [in the industry. The best-performing companies saw a 10 percent drop-off, while others saw more like a 20 to 30 percent downturn."
Thorsteinson said the issues are cyclical, as usual, related to the endless technology-driven merry-go-round of World Cup matches, Olympic games, and Presidential elections, none of which will be present in 2013. Still, he declined to characterize the current slowdown as business as usual. "I've seen four downturns in my many years in this business," he said, "but this one was particularly deep and broad."
Look for more news from Grass Valley in the weeks leading up to NAB this April.
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