GOLD COAST, Australia, Sep. 9, 2009 - Ten years ago on this day a revolution began when after years of development work a small Australian team released a new product that was destined to change the way DJs, music providers and broadcasters went about their daily business. Today Ots Labs is celebrating the many successes of the past decade, while firmly casting their thoughts and minds upon the next, revealing a few things about the exciting future ahead of them. We discuss this and more with Ots Labs founder & CEO, Adam Ots.
The product was OtsJuke DJ and the date was the 9th day of the 9th month of the year 1999. A rather fortuitous date in hindsight for a moment so significant, but this was certainly no stage-managed event.
"I remember we were certain we would be going live for at least the two days leading up to the 9th" said Mr Adam Ots, CEO of Ots Labs. "The date was never anything we thought about. If it had have been ready on the 7th, it would have gone live then. We just had so many false starts and there's always so much more to do whenever you're putting something new out, everything always takes longer...I guess the 9th of the 9th, 1999 was destiny. It finally all happened for us, the stars aligned, and then we got some sleep!"
Adam said that orders for OtsJuke DJ, an audio playout software application for Windows PCs at that time targeted at mobile DJs and radio stations, began coming in right from the moment of upload. "It was amazing! I remember there being about three orders on the first day -- I think the first order was from someone in Switzerland -- and then it all just grew from there. None of us really realised at the time just how significant this would go on to become and how much our lives would be dominated by this thing."
That thing, OtsJuke DJ went on to grow into OtsDJ, and later the OtsAV suite of products that Ots Labs currently has available, which with native and extremely high quality video abilities are also targeted at TV broadcasters. Additionally there were the spin-offs Ots CD Scratch 1200 and OtsTurntables, aimed more at the domestic market and which Mr Ots says continue to pull strong numbers and interest today.
The main focus of Ots Labs, however, has always been the premium line (today called OtsAV) which has gone on to break new ground in so many areas and is used across a diverse array of industries in almost every country of the world even though Ots Labs has never published non-English language versions of the products.
"It just goes to show how much of a thirst there is for great products, especially within this realm" said Mr Ots. "The language side is something we really want to work on, and we're sure it would help us grow our market share even further, but it's something we have to think carefully about and do right."
"Doing things right" has in many ways been the modus operandi of Ots Labs, with new features and functionality carefully considered and implemented rather than just being thrown into the product in a haphazard manner simply to gain another marketing bullet point. Ots Labs has occasionally attracted some flak for not having "feature x" or "feature y", but at the end of the day the strong and loyal user base, and the fact that so many people and businesses around the world rely on OtsAV on a daily basis for its stability, reliability, quality, innovation and overall brilliance, really says it all.
"We've never worried too much about features from a what's-fashionable point of view", admits Adam. "Of course we have to meet the market and deliver what our customers want, but oftentimes there's a huge disparity between spin or hype, and actual, real-world, practical usage scenarios. We're in this for the latter. We engineer products to solve real-world problems and I believe we do that very well. That's why people keep coming to Ots even if they may have been tempted by some of the spin elsewhere. Ots just works, always. I think professionals value that above all else."
When asked about celebrations for the milestone day today, Adam, now based in Stockholm, Sweden setting up a new European office, seems more intent on talking about the future. "Yeah, of course we're really excited to have reached this point, and certainly it is a huge achievement in the life of any business or product, but really what we're excited about is where this is going now that things are starting to settle down a little."
"We've worked really hard over the last year or so completely overhauling our development systems, tools and processes. We've also been busy setting up a stronger European presence with another office here in Sweden to take advantage of local development opportunities and we also have some new things happening in the UK and US. Then there's the websites overhaul going live today, our new logo, an official Ots Labs forums site launching later in the year and hopefully also later this year or maybe early next year a whole overhaul of our e-commerce systems." Phew! Mr Ots sounds exhausted.
"Yeah, the last twelve or eighteen months have been pretty interesting times in the world economy, but we've taken the opportunity to get all of those things done that tend to get tossed back in the general run of things. The overall demand for our products hasn't waned and in some areas like the TV broadcasting side and the solution-provider side, things are really pushing forward full-steam. Still, I think the economy has affected every business out there in some way and for us, it's kind of forced us to look carefully through all operations. Which markets are moving ahead, which ones are saturated and what can we do better and more efficiently in order to bring innovations to the market faster?"
This last point, says Adam, is where a lot of the development team's focus has been in recent times. "We had a good look at everything and thought well, we could keep doing things the way we have or we can take some time out -- even if it means a little more time to the next release -- and make some well-overdue changes to our development systems and processes which basically were established in the 1990s".
"In some ways that means that customers won't notice as much of a new feature list in the next OtsAV update as what they may expect given the time since the last, but what we've done is modernised everything and have things in a state where future developments can be completed more easily and with less time. After ten or so years, you really need to do this kind of thing. The complexity of the whole project is just mind numbing and has grown exponentially."
When asked what new features will be in the next OtsAV release expected later this month or early the next, Mr Ots offered the following:
"We rarely talk about what a release will contain and it's gotten us in trouble before" he laughs, "...as I said...main focus of dev team recently has been addressing internal development processes, tools and systems and making it faster for new stuff to come out...but there are a few goodies in there that our customers will appreciate. The ability to customise the video side with your own logos and branding -- something we're asked for about 10 times every day! -- and supporting uncompressed audio streams in Ots files, being able to export CD+G from Ots files...That's all I can really say now."
Though he hastens to add "After this release, I think it's reasonable to expect that Ots Labs is in a great position to really start capitalising on previous efforts and bring to market many of the things we've been researching and working on. It won't be a glut overnight, and our core philosophies which we've proven to work over a decade won't change, but I think it's fair to say that we've gotten a little smarter in how we handle this side."
After more than ten years of service from their previous one, Ots Labs has created a new logo and is officially launching it today -- although throughout the last few months they have been gradually introducing it within some contexts already. Adam explains "We're really proud of our logo and really believe that it stands for so much...what we've done is modify it somewhat, the gramophone is gone...but the essence of the logo is the same, just a cleaner, more widely-encapsulating, more modern look to carry us into the next decade of putting out great Ots Labs audio and video software."
Ots Labs staff today will no doubt be taking a minute out to think back and reflect on that moment exactly ten years ago when OtsJuke DJ was first launched into cyberspace, and all the amazing events that have transpired since that "crazy, sleepless" time. Mr Ots smiles and offers this hint: "a lot more crazy, sleepless times! I really would like to thank all Ots Labs staff for their unceasing support and efforts. We have amazing people."
When asked about the most memorable event of the last ten years Adam has no trouble recollecting. "It definitely has to be October 31st, 2006 and the period leading up to then. Every release is crazy, hey, almost every day is crazy here, but that time was completely insane! If people actually knew what truly goes on in order to bring a product like this to market, well, I don't know, let's just say that I really hope people enjoy using our products!" (October 31st, 2006 was the release of the company's much anticipated "version 1.75", which brought with it full video capabilities, karaoke, automated beat mixing and numerous other features and innovations.)
On a final note, Mr Ots would like to thank the Ots Labs user base. "We have the most amazing, staunchly loyal customers, and we keep attracting more. It's really inspiring, and makes the mammoth effort worthwhile, reading the heartwarming feedback we receive daily from our users all around the world. Just a few days ago we received an email from [one of the major Australian television broadcast networks] detailing why our software is 'amazing', 'surpasses everything else', and why he is 'still blown away'. Maybe this should be put in the article as an example! Anyway, the fact is our products would be nothing without our customers, both current and future, and I would like to thank everyone for their support and patronage and urge all to join with us in celebrating this day, the 9th of September, 2009...lift your glasses now!"
Ots Labs is today announcing the following:
* The official launch, today, of the new Ots Labs logo. See the Ots Labs front page.
* The unveiling, today, of brand new web sites for the entire Ots Labs site family. See the primary Ots Labs site now. (Other sites are being migrated over the next few days.)
* That an official Ots Labs community forums site will be going live later in 2009. (A forum run by Ots users has existed for many years.)
* That the next OtsAV update release is expected later this month or during October.
* An OtsZone.com promotion on OtsAV DJ Pro & Silver goes live in the next fews days (with the new OtsAV site) and lasts until the next release. Keep an eye on the OtsAV Buy page.
As a current example of the feedback Ots Labs regularly receives Adam has provided the full text of the email communication he referred to in his final quote, which he says the Ots Labs sales department received on September 4th from one of the major Australian television broadcasters. We are reproducing the most relevant sections of it below. Please note that the name of the author and company they work for have been removed as permission has not yet been sought to republish those details and Ots Labs has a strict policy on always obtaining such permission. Adam informs us, however, that if the author's employer is willing to allow those details to be made public then the quote will likely appear soon on the OtsAV Testimonials page of the Ots Labs website.
I must say, what a powerful little applicaiton. The ease of use and powerful functionality are amazing.
I have evaluated other software, and this surpases them all.
...very powerful system that even mainstream broadcasters would be interested in, like my employer, [removed] TV in Sydney.
I have been employed fulltime in the television broadcast industry for the past 20 years, the past 9 at [removed] TV, working on [removed]. Being the broadcast professional that I am, after downloading your trial software yesterday, I am still blown away by the powerful features of this application.
I especially like how 4:3 and 16:9 outputs are catered for, and how 16:9 clips within a 4:3 letterbox are treated as fullscreen 16:9 on the 16:9 output, impressive.
Many applications that cost many thousands of dollars are not even able to manage that.
I also like the intelligent crossfade/disolves transitions, and intelligent audio processing.
OTS obviously has some real expert software developers.
The official Ots Labs website is at http://www.otslabs.com/
OtsAV, including a free trial version, is available at http://www.otsav.com/