Friday, September 14, 2007

Virtual DVDs in the Sky

DRM. Today's dirty word in entertainment.

There are two competing desires at work. Content providers want to maintain complete control and capture every last cent from the value of its properties. Consumers want complete control and be able to watch something anywhere, anytime, anyhow.

Someone has to lose. Or do they?

What if iTunes allows us to stream video on one device at any time with the option of downloading video that has a very short expiration date? By allowing us to stream a video on one device at one time, the content providers can keep control while allowing us to watch video almost anywhere. That's why the short-expiration download is key. If we don't have internet access, such as on most planes still, then we demand another option.

In five years I envision a company that will be an intermediary. Not iTunes or Unbox because they have exclusive deals with content providers. I'm talking about a company with no direct ties to content providers.

So what does this company do? Simple. It's the locker-in-the-sky for your video purchases. You keep your playlist on that site with your favorites and all the other fun community options. But that's not all. This company also maintains the links to all of your purchases, regardless of the purchase point. And if that company is really good, it'll provide a common interface to watch videos.

This company will play a critical role in the ala carte video age since we'll rely on recommendations of experts, friends and the masses to help us determine which new shows to watch. We'll no longer rely on networks to tell us what to watch.

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