Add to that the growth of broadband and the plethora of easy-to-use tools available to anyone who wants to create content for the web and anyone, anywhere can create a business out of their basement and still maintain a low overhead. Need an example? One such tool that helps these basement dwellers become content creators while building off of popular podcast technology is Avid-owned M-Audio’s Podcast Factory. The word “podcast” by its very nature, again, brings backs those bells to consumers. The marketing idea: consumers trust iPod and Apple, therefore they will trust something with a related name. The Factory may not have any kind of deal worked out with Apple, but what it does have is something Apple doesn’t: experience in pro-audio.
Amanda Whiting, Media Relations representative for M-Audio, detailed her company’s decision to build on the podcast wave. “As we have our background in pro-audio, we realized there’s a place in the market for using the technology we have to [attract] a more consumer [type of] base,” Whiting explained via phone. “We went on to realiz[e] that the market need for podcasting was really starting to take hold and nobody else out there really had a solution for someone who wanted to get started and didn’t know how to… so we kind of stepped in, and since we already make microphones and audio interfaces and all that kind of stuff, we were able to come up with a great package, Podcast Factory, that has everything you need in one box to get you started.”
It’s a prime example of an outside source using its own field of expertise to expand on what a product has to offer. And as Robb Mason, Director of Consumer Sales for M-Audio suggested in our conversation, everyone has his place on the development totem pole. “You’ve got this umbrella over these large horizontal markets and I think than within these horizontal markets, because they’re so broad, you’ve got multiple vertical markets underneath [them] and that’s where we kind of tie into it.” These horizontal and vertical markets are certainly in their respective places for a reason: what’s at stake are risk and cost, and the size of your company has everything to do with determining how much of either you can reasonable take on.
As Mason put it, “Apple obviously has a large R and D department, a lot of money to throw into the development of this and they’re also a very forward-thinking company. Then you look at a company the size of ours and while we’ve grown a lot—and we’re now part of Avid so we’re bigger—we don’t have those same resources and… now that we’re publicly traded we have to be a little bit more aware of our development,” he explains. “We couldn’t go off on a tangent to do some neat thing that might or might not be a safe bet market wise, so it puts a little bit of restriction on some of the smaller companies with their resources.”
Still, Mason sees a real role for these smaller companies despite their limitations. “I think the bigger companies can come out with a cool product like with the iPod, but it takes a bunch of these smaller guys to really find new a creative ways to use it. Not only are we helping Apple sustain and grow their business, but by them coming out with this flagship product and us being able to dovetail into it, they’re helping us grow and sustain our business.” It’s a notion that thousands of pint-size internet companies have clearly embraced: a tag-team marketing method of sorts.