Monday, July 12, 2010

OVPs & Why Long-Term Profitability & Viability Matters

Hot off the presses: just announced that HP/Snapfish is acquiring the technology -- and only the technology -- of video platform provider Motionbox. Motionbox itself will shut down as a service as of August 10, leaving its 2.8 million customers without a service (click here to see Motionbox's home page announcing the deal and the impact on customers). There is no joy in reporting this, as I feel for employees of Motionbox (assuming they have no home at Snapfish), as well as for confused customers.

This is the latest example of the perils of partnering in the highly volatile OVP space. Amid the 80 or so OVPs, my G2 confirms that none of them -- that's right, NONE -- are profitable (sure, one or two may have accomplished a few months of cash-flow positivity, but that is very different than actual profitability). Only one -- Sorenson Media -- not only has a decade plus legacy of innovation, but also -- and this is very important -- a legacy of long-term profitability and viability. And, I can tell you this -- we have an extremely healthy balance sheet. We are in no need to raise capital -- how many other OVPs can say that? And, that is a critical question and consideration for potential enterprise customers, particularly in these extremely challenging venture capital market conditions. Put simply -- you need to know that your OVP will be here not only today or next week -- but next year and beyond. After all, you are entrusting your prized video assets to your chosen OVP -- you need to feel confident that they are safe and secure.

And, what happens when your OVP shuts down? Look no further than the Motionbox reality -- in the precise words of Motionbox's home page, "Videos hosted on will not be available on this site after August 1oth." In other words, customers, download your hosted videos now -- or they are lost forever.

Now, THAT's pain -- lots of pain. And, it's a real world issue that we have seen time and time again in this volatile OVP space. And, we will keep seeing it over ... and over ... and over again.

Businesses and enterprises simply can't -- and shouldn't -- have to deal with such pain. There is no time for it. They have no resources for it (and, even if they do, they must painfully take resources off other priorities to address the disruption to their video services). OVPs should be there to take away the pain -- not create it.

Let's be clear -- all OVPs want to help -- but they are struggling to find business models that work. And, these VC-backed firms -- with no profits in sight -- are not given the lee-way for patience. In this environment, funding dries up -- and, this makes partners and customers very vulnerable. As cliche as it sounds, being in good hands really does matter.

Sorenson Media indisputably has a unique story of trust and long-term profitability, viability and stability. Among OVPs, we also have a uniquely diversified product portfolio with multiple revenue streams. We are told by our customers that such peace of mind means a lot to them. A lot.

And it should. It really should. Think about it.

Apple's FaceTime Mobile Live Video Chat -- And To Think There Are Doubters

Prior to Sorenson Media, I had the good fortune of running SightSpeed, widely considered to offer the highest quality consumer-focused video chat service. The company was acquired by Logitech in the fall of 2008. During my tenure, I predicted the massive potential of mobile live video chat -- here is one of my posts from several years back.

Well, here we are in July 2010 -- and here Apple is with FaceTime, its live video chat for the iPhone 4. Once again, Apple is changing everything by putting mobile live video chat front and center in the minds of consumers. The latest example? All four of Apple's new iPhone 4 commercials feature FaceTime.

Apple's 8 Lessons to All Digital Media & Technology Entrepreneurs

Apple is a well oiled machine. Among other things, what it has done on the PR side is incredible -- i.e., all of us advertise Apple all the time (case in point -- this post!).

Apple -- and Professor Jobs -- have schooled the biggest and the baddest. Microsoft anyone? Just a few years back, it was unthinkable that Apple would surpass Microsoft's market cap. Well, think different -- they just recently did. iPod. iTunes. iPhone. iPad. FaceTime.

How did -- and does -- Apple do it time and time again?

Digital media and technology entrepreneurs -- take note. Follow Apple's 8 step "paint by numbers" approach (click on this link for a compelling slide show) -- and heed the lessons well.