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Ultra Violet arrives late to party with no invite


Published: 18 November, 2011


You can't design technology based on what consumers want, at least that cannot be the ONLY reason for designing a piece of technology. It also has to have a route to market which makes sense, and gives everyone in the food chain some margin.

DECE's UltraViolet (UV) content rights locker gives people what they want in content, but finding a route to market for the technology is now the tougher part of the problem.

UV lets you buy content from any UV partner, and deliver that content onto any UV player. It is secure and you also get to keep a version in your rights locker so that if you lose all your copies, there is a server somewhere which knows that you are entitled to watch that film or listen to that music and lets you have another copy.

After a world where we paid to watch the movie in a cinema, then paid to watch it again on pay per view, bought the DVD, then when that got scratched, rented another DVD and finally watched it on a TV service as a rerun - the idea of paying once and seeing it whenever we like, has a feeling of justice about it.

But look at it from the other point of view. The Cinema sells less copies, ships less DVDs, has less bargaining power with the pay TV networks and with Netflix, and lower repeat revenues from TV operators - so it has to charge more up front to make the same money.

And in a world where cellular and fixed line operators have tried to operate walled gardens, and companies like Apple have sold low priced iPods at inflated prices on the back of a content stranglehold, what's in it for those companies. How will they continue to take their pound of flesh? That's right they can't. Without iTunes, an MP3 player becomes a low priced obsolete processor, a cheap battery with some cheap flash memory in it and some software that was written years ago and which has wrung out its value many times over. Ask the other MP3 player makers, who sell their devices for next to nothing, but still lose out to Apple.

Which explains why Apple and Disney are staunchly opposing DECE and UV, and why they will never become members, and why they will use everything at their disposal, Apple has even come up with its own walled garden rights locker iCloud, to make it look like it embraces the locker idea, but without offering you the benefits of being able to use it with anything other than iOS, an operating system it refuses to license to anyone, even though it was largely based on open source versions of Unix.

The absence of these players undermines the major advantage of UV for consumers, which is that it should end the situation where online video services all have their separate ecosystem with different formats, players, and usage models. Today Apple's iTunes will not play on an Xbox, and a TV show bought from Best Buy Cinema Now will not work on a Walmart Vudu player.

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