Disneys Keychest Does it Hold a Magic Carpet Ride to the Riches Held Within the Virtual Cloud?
Yes Im being facetious, but its not because I think the idea of Keychest is bad, but we must take this magic cloud (as ABI Research Digital Home Practice Director Jason Blackwell likes to call it) with a modicum of reality.Ok, enough of the Magic Kingdom references, but while there are certainly strengths and merit to this announcement (at least based on what we know so far), as in most cases there are hurdles as well.
Disney certainly has access to a wide breadth of valuable content beyond whats directly in house (e.g. Pixar, ESPN, ABC, Marvel), so Keychest from the start will have its coffers at least partly filled, but who else will participate?Apple for obvious reasons is a likely fit, but lest we forget about a rather large consortium of companies currently backing a potentially competitive solution, DECE (Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem), the founding members of which include:
Alcatel Lucent, Best Buy, Cisco, Comcast Corporation, Deluxe Digital, Fox Entertainment Group, HP, Intel, Lionsgate, Microsoft Corporation, NBC Universal, Panasonic, Paramount Pictures, Royal Philips Electronics, Samsung, Sony Corporation, Toshiba, Verisign Inc., and Warner Bros. Entertainment.
A list that not only spans the value chain but it includes companies that stand amongst the industry leaders.So it might start to look like the odds are stacked against Disneybut we would be remiss to simply think of this as a Mouse versus a DECE Goliath (albeit a goliath we have yet to see clearly).
Given Steve Jobs connection to Apple and Disney, Apple by association enters the picture (for now anyway).Apple, however, has always been the wild card when it comes to interoperability.DECE isnt the first foray into a cohesive ecosystem.Intertrust is spearheading two other solutions, Coral Consortium and Marlin, neither of which can count Apple as a supporter.It is worth noting here that Sony and Philips are part owners of Intertrust.Sony also spearheaded the effort formerly known as Open Market which has since developed into DECE.
With Apple and FairPlay on the sidelines and considering their installed base, any interoperable platform is essentially rendered a competitor rather than an industry wide solution (but at the very least a cohesive competitor).
In the end all of this might turn into another format war and instead of Apple and the other solutions it will be Apple and/or Keychest against DECE.But there exists the possibility that content holders might accept Keychest given the potential Apple connection Apple joining DECE at this point looks like a very remote possibility not to mention companies like Sony defecting to Keychest.But this is all speculation, so lets focus on the hurdles a platform like Keychest might face.
Whether you use rights tokens (and rights lockers) or the cloud in total, there is one common element connectivity.But isnt connectivity a natural piece of the puzzle anyway, how could it be a hurdle?We already watch online video, so why would connectivity be an issue?
Have you ever lost your Internet connection or had problems with the LAN?Or experienced variable bit rates based on shared bandwidth? How about broadband caps?This is a very interesting wrinkle.If as some pundits suggest we are quickly moving to a pay for service model, then ostensibly storing and accessing your content from the cloud will cost you part of your monthly data allowance (and if you go over, monetarily as well) -not to mention the need (or at least desire) to acquire a speedier connection.One could liken this to renting your movie each time you watch it, just using a different currency.
This isnt strictly a wired services issue either, because mobile devices are increasingly including video as part of the equation as well.In so many cases where unlimited data actually means a lot of data, with limits creating a model that encourages heavier video streaming could very well engender a conflict and hence another hurdle.
Even though portability is great and being able to access content from the cloud would be nice, it only works as long as you can reach it.Disney ironically is a perfect example where the cloud, for now, might not be the best solution for families.How many automobiles (many minivans, SUVs, CUVs) have you seen with a screen playing cartoons for the kids sitting in the back seat?Its a great solution for long trips or even to help temporarily keep sibling rivalry at bay.But how will you access the cloud from the car?Or what happens if you cant access a network waiting at the doctors office, the airport, or any location without some form of connectivity?Thinking of data caps again, how many times can a child watch his or her favorite movie/cartoon?Try explaining to a child he cant watch Mickey anymore this month because they ran out of bandwidth.Maybe these services wont impact the cap?Thats a possibility, but one service provider, Comcast, for now is on the DECE side, not to mention most of the service providers are trying to push their own video solutions.
Until connectivity becomes universal, the cloud still remains a vision still up in the sky but Disney is certainly aware of this and has openly stated it will take time.Until such time, there are numerous issues that need resolution prior to such a system becoming mainstream but at the very least it is a thought in the right direction.Regardless how this plays out, these are interesting times to be following the entertainment market.
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