Welcome to Purple Next Generation!

tl dr;

We’ve spent the last two years reinventing the Purple media platform. We’ve rebuilt the entire user experience, both user-facing and client-facing, as well as an all-new API.

We set out to create a solution that could present any kind of media e-commerce and consumption experience a client could dream up, as if they had built it themselves, but with the immense timeframe, cost and reliability advantages of a mature, proven platform.

With Purple Next Generation, we’re very happy to say we feel we nailed it.

Purple is no longer just a video platform. It’s a infinitely flexible media framework, featuring Purple Custom Components, client-specific components with completely customizable layout, style and behavior (HTML, CSS, and Javascript) that drop right in to our existing framework.

Purple Custom Components enable you to create any kind of experience possible, while leveraging our powerful and proven plaform for substantial time and cost savings.

Need to send emails or SMS? Create games, or quizzes, track student progress, or talk to an external API? Whatever you need, now or in the future, we believe in most cases, Purple can deliver what you want, faster, with a better user experience, and at lower cost, than any other option.

Extended pontification:

We had, and have, a very solid, reliable infrastructure foundation, including content hosting and CDN delivery, database, user authentication, and so forth.

But what we saw lacking at Purple, and among our competition, was a media platform framework that made creating completely customizable media shopping and consumption experiences easy and powerful.

Anyone wanting to monetize media with sales, subscriptions or rentals in the internet age has two options:

  • build-it-yourself
  • use an off-the-shelf platform

Build it yourself

There’s only one advantage to building your own video platform, but it’s a huge one: the ability to create anything you dream of.

Instead of having to deal with the limitations of off-the-shelf systems, you can hire developers or a development company and build whatever you want (given unlimited funds, unlimited time, and no concern over return on investment).

Building a media platform means cobbling together a vast array of dozens of different elements–where will you host your content? Which CDN will deliver it? Which database will you use? Which payment gateway? Which stack architecture, which server technology, which front end framework, which mobile app technology, which, which, which?

I’ve had many conversations with people tasked with building a media delivery platform who have found their way to Purple, usually when the project is long overdue and they are growing gray with stress, hoping we will have some puzzle pieces that will make their impossible job easier.

The problems with build-it-yourself systems are legion:

  • Always takes far longer than anticipated
  • Always costs far more than anticipated
  • You want bugs? Angry customers? Brand damage? Refund requests? Lost sales? You got ‘em! No software built by humans, especially something as complex as a media delivery system, works well when it first launches.

In fact, I would say that over half the time, built-it-yourself systems fail so completely that they are scrapped and the content company is back to square one. And this is not only true with small and medium-sized companies, but even the biggest:

  • Disney famously closed down their “Disney Movies Online” system and refunded all customers who had tried to use it
  • HBO killed their in-house effort to build a streaming system (code-named Maui), fired their entire development team (that was costing HBO a rumored $100 million per year), scrapped their work and is now using Major League Baseball’s media platform
  • Target spent millions on Target Ticket, a would-be competitor to Amazon, iTunes, and Vudu, and killed it after less than 18 months
The bottom line is: It’s hard to build a video delivery platform that works.

Off the shelf

Every week, it seems new video platform businesses spring up, while several others shut their doors. In the eight years since we launched our first client, we’ve seen many come and go.

The video platform companies that are still around are a mixed bag, some offer puzzle pieces while others are more of a total solution. But it seems, the more comprehensive the offering, the more vendor lock-in there was. If you wanted to deliver your content through a reliable, stable, established platform, you have to do it their way.

And that’s also how Purple was up until we started rolling out Purple Next Generation components just a few months ago.

We now feel we’ve created what the marketplace has needed all along: a framework allowing all the flexibility of a build-your-own system, with the major timeframe, cost and reliability advantages of a proven, established platform.

Originally published at medium.com on October 31, 2016.