a. Is Avid�s technology unique and protected by patents? If so, are there alternative technologies that could/might replace Avid in their targeted market?
Yes Avid hold 100's of patents. Avid invented this market (Non linear editing) back in the late 80's so they hold a TON of related patents. Being from the indusrty I can tell you that Avid is the technology leader. Could someone come out with some wiz-bang technology to rival Avid ..yes. Avids real stregnth is in the fact that they are EVERYWHERE in the industry. Outfitting an NLE shop or Broadcast newsroom is a VERY expensive undertaking. The competition would have to present a pretty compelling reason for these Avid customers to convert because it is as I said NOT cheap to do so and Avids gear does the job better than anything out there.
f. Why has Avid decreased spending in R&D? Is this wise given its future challenges?
I believe Avid has spent a lot of R+D on HD solutions and Broacast solutions over the last 3-4 years. I think the lions share of that very expensive R+D has been done as they are shipping HD products now. Avid has also cleaned up its balance sheet substantialy over the last few years. I think the spending was out of control during the previous mngmt era and is now coming in line