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North Plains Update Telescope & Xinet

by Naresh Sarwan on December 18, 2012

One of our featured DAM vendors, North Plains, have recently updated their own Telescope DAM system and also Xinet who they acquired earlier this year.  The stand out features from the Xinet update are:

  • Allows Xinet to transfer files to Telescope
  • Build contact sheets of assets
  • Preview assets on the server with a contextual menu
  • Support for Adobe CS6 client applications on Windows (in addition to existing Mac support)

The Telescope updates include:

  • Allow users to assemble collections with ‘tear off’ catalogues
  • Integration with the VizView component
  • One-click installation of Telescope
  • Adobe CS6 certification

The updates include the compatibility with Adobe Creative SuiteTM 6 and the capability to easily transfer assets and its associated metadata from Xinet to Telescope via the new ConnectR™ functionality. The simultaneous shipments are a reflection of North Plains’ commitment to integration between its product lines allowing customers to continuously leverage the latest technology.” [Read More]

Arguably, some of the Xinet updates just bring this product into alignment with what a good section of competitor products have had already for a number of years, however, the description of the feature might be quite a lot different to the functionality implemented and I have complained about flowery language from vendors before so if you are Xinet existing customer (or a prospective one) then you would need to assess this by inspecting the actual features and trying this out yourself.

There are some interesting points about the coordinated release.  The first is this line:

Customers who have both Xinet 17.04 and Telescope 9.0.3 will be able to use the ‘Push to DAM’ feature that allows a user in a Xinet 17.04 system to push either a single asset (file and metadata) or multiple assets (files and metadata) to Telescope.” [Read More]

The other is the fact they’ve done a joint release of both products simultaneously.  The more straightforward explanation is they just want to save some cash by combining press updates and the products have coincidentally similar release schedules.  Another perspective is that Xinet is being prepared to be merged into Telescope and customers will be ‘encouraged’ to move from one platform to the other with various upgrade or cross-migration incentives.

North Plains claim they plan to operate all three of their new products simultaneously and it’s true that these do (just about) operate in separate market segments if you take a fairly strict view of differences between them.  Pre-acquisition however, I would not have expected North Plains, Xinet or VYRE to have been exactly comfortable if you had assembled their senior staff in the same room – as it is now with other competing vendors.  The reality with DAM sales is that most vendors compete with each other to offer whatever they think their prospective clients are looking for as long as it’s roughly in their target, the positioning lines might be strategic aspirations by their senior marketing executives, but they’re not what really happens on the ground.

Many prospective DAM purchasers don’t fully understand the finer distinctions between DAM, MRM etc and sales operations will normally fight like cats and dogs even if they profess ignorance of the competition in public.  It might be that rather than scrapping it out with each other, the new three product team will cross-refer leads to each other, but I’ve rarely witnessed successful reciprocal business in enterprise software operations, they will each have their eye on making sure it’s their division’s numbers that still stack up.

If I were a prospective or existing end user of one of the other platforms, I would want to review their product road-maps very carefully and look closely at what they do, rather than what they say.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ralph Windsor December 18, 2012 at 8:34 pm

You’ve maybe left the vendor paranoia on auto-pilot here, Naresh and I’d go with the simpler explanation rather than the complex conspiracy theory.

If they want their products to be interoperable, they then probably need to coordinate at least some of the release cycle (as they have done). The Xinet deal is a few months down the track compared with the Vyre one which they’ve only just inked, so it’s understandable only Xinet are included.

I think your other point on a different article about why they’re acquiring other vendors rather than product could be a better one, although there’s some corporate reasons that might be leading that, for example, they acquire the turnover and client list of the target business (plus staff).

A more interesting comparison is Woodwing + Elvis – which is more like horizontal integration. I would tend to agree that there is a consolidation trend in play, but I’m not sure how monolithic and self-serving it’s going to be, or they risk losing all their customers in the new acquisitions and basically wasting their money. I can’t see the people at Accel-KKR letting them get away with doing that.

In terms of buyouts, a closer comparison (in my view) would be Getty Images when they decided to go on a shopping spree in the stock images library market a decade or so ago. They basically cherry picked anything they thought was worth having, consolidated some infrastructure costs across businesses but still left separate brands operating in a partially independent state. What North Plains are doing seems similar to that.

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