FTR Ltd. (FTR: AX)
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FTR Ltd. develops and sells digital recording and content
management systems specifically related to the court, hearing room and legislative markets
In 1997, when Townsend was appointed CEO of FTR Pty Ltd, he initiated a new product development and marketing strategy designed to increase market penetration for the Companys line of digital court recording products. He instituted stringent cash control mechanisms, and led the Company through its most significant period of growth.
To date, FTR has installed more than 7,000 recording systems throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Africa.
In 1993, Townsend co-founded the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT). He served as AAERTs Vice-President during its first two years, and chaired the Associations Legislative Committee.
Townsends academic background includes studies in both engineering and business administration. He received his bachelors degree in management from Arizona State University.
Townsend remains active in community affairs
and professional associations. He is a member of the Arizona Technology Council and
serves on its legislative committee. He also maintains active memberships in
court-related associations including the National Association for Court Managers (NACM),
and the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT).
FTR Pty Ltd (FTR: AX Australian Exchange) is the world's leading supplier of courtroom digital audio recording systems. FTR Pty Ltd and its U.S. subsidiary FTR Ltd. are owned by FTR Holdings, a public company listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. The U.S. office in Phoenix, Arizona provides administration, sales, marketing, product management, and technical support, and R&D and production are handled in the companys Perth, Western Australia headquarters.
In December of 1998, FTR introduced its latest product offering, FTR Gold, a truly open, computer-based digital recording solution. FTR Gold captures, stores, and manages digital audio and associated text. As court and hearing rooms switch from tapes to CDs, court administrators, judges, lawyers and transcribers all benefit from faster, more accurate and less costly access to court records.
FTR Gold consists of three core components: FTR Reporter, FTR Player Plus, and FTR Log Notes. FTR Reporter provides digital audio recording, archiving, playback and duplication. FTR Player Plus is available free and is downloadable from the Companys website. FTR Player Plus provides full-featured playback of audio, immediate access to testimony, fast reproduction, and transcription capability. FTR Log Notes is an electronic note-taking software application that makes it easy to annotate digital audio files for dynamic referencing. Various optional components are available so customers can design a system that meets their specific needs.
FTR ReporterDeckTM is a hardware-based
solution that provides a turnkey digital audio recording and can be used in place of FTR
Reporter if a customer prefers a simple "plug-n-play" system. Both FTR
Reporter and FTR ReporterDeck include CD and network archive capabilities.
Mr. Townsend: The company was founded in
Perth, Western Australia and has been a publicly traded company on the Australian Stock
Exchange since late 1995. I have been CEO since late 1997, and in August 2003, FTR
celebrates its 10th year in business. The primary business for the company is the
development and sale of recording and content management systems, specifically related to
the court, hearing room and legislative markets, both in North America and other parts of
the world. Of the 7,500 systems we currently have installed, about 80 to 85% are in North
America. Most of our systems installed outside North America are in Australia and Asia,
with the remainder in Europe (The U.K. and Italy)."
We are currently selling at an increasing rate. A year and a half ago we were selling 60 to 70 systems per month and we are now selling 130 to 150 systems per month. We attribute the growth to two factors, one being the obsolescence of tape recorders and secondly the move away from court reporters towards more modern record capturing as state budgets are being crunched. Courts that currently use tape recorders are no longer willing to invest in what they perceive to be an old technology and they would like to make the transition to recording onto CD. Hence, the transfer from analog to digital is a logical move and the cost differential is no longer a barrier to purchase. Furthermore, the majority of court rooms in the United States are controlled at the state level, and most states budgets are in dire condition. This is working in our favor because it is accelerating the pace that the courts are willing to lay off court reporters and install more modern methods of capturing the court record."
do you reach the people that you need to reach?
Does the end customer care that it is an FTR product that they are using?
The second part of the strategy, and most significant, is that FTR will begin to promote our underlying linking technology. We recently added a developers section on our website that allows customers and third party developers to have complete access to our application programming interface (API). With this, they can embed FTRs linking technology in other applications. For example, the link you create when you use our Log Notes application can be placed in Microsoft Word. So if you prefer to take your notes in Microsoft Word, FTR can be used to allow the user to insert small time stamps, each of which acts as a hyperlink to the audio and associated content. So youre no longer using FTR Log Notes to manage your content, but Word instead.
also working with a company called Smart Technologies, Inc., which is another example of
non-text moving into FTR technologies. Smart produces White Board applications-- large
boards that will record everything that is written on them so you can replay the White
Board activity at a later date. It is a very nice technology and Smart, a Canadian
company, is the leader in this market. We are working with them now so that the White
Board events will actually synchronize with the audio and the text. You will be able to
actually see the White Board activity and listen to the audio that is being produced. In
addition, FTR is introducing a video component later this year. You will then be able to
use your notes to navigate through the White Board activity, audio and video. For example,
if you consider the education market where students want to review material for a class
that happened a few months ago, they could simply click on their notes and not only
retrieve the audio of what the professor was saying, but actually see what the professor
was writing on the white board. This is all possible because the FTR linking technology
will let users access all types of content from just about any application. So we see that
as a very exciting outgrowth for us and an extension of the technology.
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