Disney is set to announce its Keychest technology at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) starting later this week. First covered in late October, this technology is a way to validate your ownership of a movie or TV show, whether the purchase was on disc or in digital format and regardless of where you bought it. The idea is that, IF major platforms/retailers (like Apple/iTunes, Amazon, Comcast, Sony, Netflix) participate, you'll be able to purchase a disc or digital file from any of them and that will validate your ownership of the item. You will, then, be able to watch it any time from any service on your PC, TV or mobile device. Since Apple's Steve Jobs is a major Disney shareholder, thanks to the Pixar sale a while back, it would be easy to surmise that Jobs will jump on board (especially with the upcoming 'tablet' which would be a particularly handy device for such mobile consumption of film and TV).
Meanwhile, the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE), a consortium hoping to set open standards for online movie and TV distribution, has now reached agreement on a common file format (a version of H.264), 5 DRM technolgoies (Adobe, Microsoft, Widevine, Intertrust and OMA V2) and has chosen |Neustar to build an online storage service. All major studios are now a part of this effort...except the aforementioned Disney. All the major consumer electronics and cable set-top makers as well as top PC and mobile phone companies (excepting Apple) and a few big retailers including Best Buy are on-board.
Hmmmm... Disney and Apple absent from the DECE. Jobs is a major holder of both Apple and Disney. Disney moving forward with Keychest.
Seems oddly reminiscent of the battle-royale over high-def disc standards that blew billions of dollars over several years, leaving consumers confused and in limbo while the business and technology landscape rattled and rolled.
Disney is certainly not one to move in a straight-line, though. Last year the company sold its Movies.com site to Fandango for $15 million. Now that they've decided they want to be a major player in online film and TV distribution, they have gone and registered a portfolio of related domains (that are less attractive than the one they sold), including:
Ahhh, the smell of digital confusion.