North Plains Partner With Equilibrium

Another week in Digital Asset Management, another partnership between an ancillary vendor and DAM system OEM.  This time it’s North Plains (who are about the closest the DAM industry gets to ‘large’ currently in terms of the pure players) and Equilibrium who develop media processing servers.   NP have got their main marketing man, Eric Courville, to supply the press quote:

North Plains’ partnership with Equilibrium has been expanding for the last few years, and we’re very pleased that they are going to be an important part of our global user conference, Ngage. We are working with Equilibrium to engage our attendees by utilizing EQ Network to instantly broadcast video from our user conference directly to our customer base automatically.” [Read More]

This is from Daniel Kenyon, Equilibrium’s VP:

We are delighted that our partnership is enabling North Plains to deliver a real-time multi-screen viewing experience to their customers via the EQ Network. Not only can North Plains’ customer base benefit by adding the MediaRich Server’s all-media server to their products, they now can have a complete end-to-end video preparation and delivery right from within Telescope.” [Read More]

What are the implications of this partnership for everyone else?  There are a few on-going trends emerging, the main one is that more DAM vendors are deciding to throw in the towel on developing their own media processing and get someone else to do it.  This isn’t exactly new anyway as many vendors will use toolkits and third party libraries, especially open source utilities like ImageMagick and FFMPEG, but in the past, the majority would still handle the communication, coordination and workflow between components themselves.

Equilibrium have been busy sorting out partnerships with a number of other DAM vendors over the last few years, as well as hedging their bets by touting the capability to use their product with SharePoint to turn the latter in a DAM alternative (with mixed success based on my own experience – but through no fault of their solution it should be pointed out).  They have been on the media processing scene for many years.  Those readers whose 30th birthday is now a good number of years behind them might remember a product they used to develop called ‘Debabelizer’ which I personally spent many bleary eyed hours developing custom 256-colour palettes with for various multimedia projects I was involved in at the time (‘before the war’ as my wife often appends to my anecdotes about this era).

We have noted that collaboration and artwork annotation vendor, ConceptShare seem to be pursuing a similar strategy and incrementally embedding themselves into lots of different vendor offerings.  Also, the majority of SaaS vendors are using Amazon Web Services (aka ‘the Cloud’) to provide scalable hosting and Amazon are offering various other ancillary services which are clearly aimed at DAM and related fields.  While the competition in the DAM system market seems to be expanding at an exponential rate, some of the ancillary vendors who supply this burgeoning demand seem to be successfully cornering their own niches and making it very difficult for anyone else to gain a foothold.

At DAM News, we were all surprised that Adobe seem to have missed a trick and rather than leverage their existing brands to start selling services with reference to the desktop applications that they are already well known for (Photoshop especially) they have instead entered the fray by developing their own DAM solutions instead.  Adobe are a proper behemoth software vendor, unlike North Plains who merely pretend to be.  Why they have chosen to enter the fragmented free for all bun-fight that is the modern DAM market is a mystery to us.  If there is anyone who Equilibrium would probably not want to see muscling in on their act, it’s got to be Adobe.

There is a threat and opportunity gathering momentum here.  The threat to those who use more of these third party tools (and copy the most popular choices which everyone else uses) is that your platform becomes increasingly homogenised and no different to other alternatives.  The opportunity is to cut down a big section of duplicated development costs (which vendors seem to want to delude themselves are ‘investments’) and use that saving to specialise in a more profitable niche of DAM which you can dominate yourself.  The DAM industry’s seemingly limitless capacity to shoot itself in the foot might be the wildcard decider in the final outcome, however.

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