Thomson Grass Valley Floats New Kayak Production Switcher

The first new product to spring from last year's merger of Thomson Broadcast and the Grass Valley Group is a low-end production switcher. It will make its official debut at April's NAB convention.

Dubbed the Kayak, the $30,000 switcher has one mix-effect and is designed for smaller live applications, post-production or outside-broadcast use.

"This is the first product with technology from both engineering groups," said Thomson Grass Valley's Jay Shinn of the Kayak switcher. "It's akin to the GVG Model 100 or 110 switchers as far as features, value and price point."

The unit is Thomson Grass Valley's response to the tougher economic climate. "We're going to look to get our price points down and start enlarging our market by trying to go downmarket," said Marc Valentin, president of Thomson Broadcast and Media Solutions.

"The integration of Thomson and Grass Valley Group could have taken place in a better market situation," he said. "But what we've successfully done is the integration and reducing costs, and we did that very well."

Valentin said that one of the most important new developments from Thomson Broadcast won't even be a product. It's that the Grass Valley and the Thomson product lines now interface properly. For example, the production switchers and routing switchers are now interoperable, he said. "That's important for customers because our routers and production switchers are two strong product areas, and the key worry from customers was how would those products interface? Now we don't hear those concerns."

Valentin said the company is also trying to improve its research-and-development process. "The new process has more organization and more steps, which is nothing new in Thomson's other industries, but it was new for the broadcast market, which has been a cottage industry with its own processes," he said. "The biggest difference will be that, if product development takes a wrong turn, the previous steps are well-documented so that design and engineering don't lose as much time."

But, for now, Valentin's principal concern is finding new ways to grow the company. He is keeping an eye on costs and figuring out ways to increase revenues from existing customers. "If technology is more affordable, we can drive more revenue," he said. "Also important are service revenues."