The market for Digital Content Creation (DCC) software has stagnated, according to a report recently released by Jon Peddie Research (JPR). But software vendors in this market will prosper as long as they wise up and give people what they want, the report also suggests. And what they want is not tools that are more powerful or even cheaper—they want tools that are more intuitive and easier to learn and use.
The report, "Digital Content Creation Software Market," provides an overview and forecast of the market for 3D and 2D animation, audio editing and compositing, digital video editing and compositing, DVD authoring, dynamic/interactive content authoring, and graphics and image editing software.
The worldwide market for DCC software in 2001 was just over $2 billion, according to this JPR study. That represents a decline from previous years, and this decline is something that can only partially be explained by the economic downturn.
"Not a lot of people are rushing to buy these tools," says JPR analyst Jared Vishney, author of the study. "Most people who need them have purchased them already."
Vishney is quick to add, however, that he is speaking about media professionals. Among that group, the market is clearly saturated. But among media amateurs, there is still ample opportunity, Vishney believes. "The market is moving downstream," he says, meaning vendors are finding success among the lower echelons—hobbyists, so-called "prosumers," and even the average consumer.
But your average Mr.-&-Mrs.-DCC-using-consumer is quite a different animal from the DCC professional and has a "different mindset," Vishney warns. And the main difference lies in lack of patience for complicated interfaces and metaphors. "Consumers are not willing to invest the time in learning new tools," says Vishney. "More filters, effects, and features are not the key to future success. Easier-to-use and more consumer- and artist-friendly interfaces will drive market growth."
The use of a mouse for drawing is a good example of the gap between professionals and amateurs, says Vishney. Having to use a mouse is usually not a sales deterrent to graphics professionals who have "invested the time to get used to using a mouse for detailed work." But many graphics neophytes will simply give up when they see how hard it is to "make fine manipulations with a clumsy mouse," says Vishney.
"Consumers don't need 150 features and 200 filters; they just want to be able to get their photos from their digital camera into the computer and to be able to manipulate them a little."
Vishney is critical of software companies that think they can capture the consumer market simply by "stripping away some of the features" of their high-end professional tools to create a "Lite" version of their tool. "They dumb down the feature set without changing the interface or the metaphors," Vishney complains. He says that's not good enough. They are still too complicated. New tools need new interfaces and new and better metaphors.
"The metaphors they use may be the metaphors that professionals are familiar with but they are not the metaphors that consumers are familiar with."
Vishney says that many of the vendors of the entrenched professional tools have already lost ground to upstart tool vendors willing to invest in innovative new tools. "Adobe is under fire from many sources. Pinnacle has put a big dent in the market," says Vishney, referring to Adobe's industry-leading Premiere video editing software and Pinnacle's consumer-oriented Studio 8 and pro-level Edition video editing tools.
"If DCC software vendors are going to succeed in the future, they are going to have to do more than just create a tool and say: ‘Here it is.' They're going to have to lead users by the hand," says Vishney. "The key issue for DCC software providers will be, have you helped the consumer through the whole content creation process?"
Vishney also predicts that smart vendors will lure consumers by "providing a training component," perhaps a multimedia CBT program on CD-ROM bundled with their tool or free elearning lessons offered on the company Web site.
The report also provides historical data and a forecast through 2004 for the total worldwide DCC software market, as well as individual segment market shares, industry composition, and a ranking of the top vendors in the space. For each segment of the DCC software market, the report provides a brief overview, a discussion of influencers and segment dynamics, the industries supported by the tools, and the total realized market for 2001 and share for each segment. For more information, visit the Jon Peddie Research Web site at: www.jonpeddie.com.