Sony BMG Drops DRM and Maybe Logic Too

sony bmg experimentLast week, news that Sony BMG would soon drop DRM encryption from their music library leaked but details were scarce.   The company confirmed Monday the reports were accurate – more or less. It’s the “less” part that will cause some confusion.

Sony BMG will in fact begin selling unrestricted music January 15th.  The method, however, won’t be as expected (at least initially). It might not make a lot of sense either. Instead of partnering with online music stores and offering their catalog in the portable unencrypted format, Sony BMG has opted to start their DRM-Free experiment by throwing their support behind traditional brick and mortar retailers: the bellwether’s of the labels’ past successes (Only  about 10% of music sold in 2007 was online digital music). 

Sony’s BMG has also opted to support only full album sales and not the more common online practice of ala carte singles with this first foray.

The new service is called the Platinum Music Pass.  It is built around a gift card Click to Read More

Microsoft TV: The Next Developments

msft tvIn addition to Bill Gates keynote, Microsoft launched the Consumer Electronics Show Sunday evening with four Television related press releases and product announcements. 

• MGM & Disney/ABC on Xbox Live
Headlining the list was Microsoft’s announcement that, Xbox Live, their internet platform for delivering video on demand through the game console, will soon offer an on-demand library of content double that available through cable and satellite services.   

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The World According to Bill: CES Keynote 2008

News from Microsoft was expected Sunday night.  It was the moment  of Bill Gates  eleventh, and final,  keynote address to open the Consumer Electronics Show. The stage was set.  It was the Super Bowl of Entertainment and Technology convergence.  A time for news.  A time for Bill.

CES has been for Bill Gates  what Macworld has been for Steve Jobs.  In past efforts – the CES keynote has been a night for him to climb on stage and issue a “State of the Union,” a chance to sing Microsoft’s praises, to plug their products,  a chance to predict the future.  It’s always a night of a little humor, of celebrity appearances and geek idols – a moment in the spotlight with all the glitz, multimedia  and professional production a corporate event can withstand.   Sunday, all expected points were covered.

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A CES Eulogy: Warner Brother’s slays HD DVD

dvd-wars.jpgIn 1970 the Video Cassette recorder was launched at the Consumer Electronics Show.  In 1996, the DVD was revealed. 2003 was the year Blu Ray launched.  This year, Toshiba had big plans for their HD DVD format.   That is, they had big plans until Friday when Warner Brother’s pulled the rug out from under their planned party.   Now, instead of a celebration it’s looking more like a funeral.

For the last year, Sony’s Blu Ray and Toshiba’s HD DVD had been fighting an open, and hostile, battle to claim the title of approved standard for high definition DVD.    Money and incentives were being offered and sides being taken.  In one corner there was Sony backing Blu Ray.   In the other, Toshiba, sponsor of HD DVD.   Movie studios, rental companies and gaming companies were forming alliances.    

Lions Gate, Fox, Disney and MGM had sided with Blu Ray.  Blockbuster was also pushing the disks in its stores.  Microsoft, on the other side, was stumping for HD DVD with the Xbox platform.  So too was Intel.  Warner Brother’s and Paramount were Switzerland. They remained Neutral.

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Sony BMG Dropping MP3 DRM?

drm downIt falls short of formal collusion but the world’s big four music labels tend to move in a herd.  Where one tentatively steps, the others follow if the ground proves solid.  Where two go, the rest stampede.  In the digital rights management (DRM) debate, EMI was the first to choose a new path.   Last week, Warner Music was the third to withdraw from a staunch DRM Stance.  Now, Business Week is reporting Sony BMG is on the verge of dropping the copyright encryption programs too.

According to the Business Week report, which sites the famously vague “sources familiar with the matter,” Sony BMG will sell digital music free of burdensome copyright encryption at some point during the first quarter of this year.  The expectation is the DRM-Free music may even appear as early as February.  That would allow Sony BMG to participate in a massive music give-away promotion Pepsi is running for the Super Bowl.

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Streamed Flix from Netflix

nflx set top boxIn October’s 3rd quarter earnings conference call, Netflix’ CEO Reed Hastings spent a few minutes talking to analysts about the slowly converging worlds of video distribution.  In those comments he expressed three long term goals: “one, to expand the content [they] offer online; two, to make it inexpensive and easy for consumers to view that content on the television; and three, to understand what the financial model for the hybrid service will be in the long term.”  Today, Netflix took a step toward realizing goal number two.

Late Wednesday the DVD-by-mail rental service announced a partnership to bring movies straight to the TV over the Internet.  The new service, which will not be available before June, expands on Netflix’ year old “Watch Instantly” functionality by removing the requirement to watch streams through a computer.

The service will rely initially on hardware manufactured and sold by South Korean electronics giant, LG.   Using a dedicated set top box, or equivalent functionality bundled into a DVD player or other hardware Click to Read More

Gaming and Movie Convergence: a retrospective timeline

convergenceA good story is timeless, crossing between different medium, living and breathing it runs in an often unending circle.  Books and comic books become TV shows and movies.  Movies and TV programs spin off and beget novels and video games. Games too, sometimes start their own traditions or evolve from other tales already known.   It’s a natural co-existence; a cycle that’s evolving with each change in communication mediums.

Among the different medium, video games and movies in particular share a common ground.  They are often similar in storyline and visual style.  That makes for a natural companionship where, on one level, they co-exist by sharing franchises as appropriate to the different technologies and methods of storytelling; watch Star Wars, the movie; play Star Wars, the video game.  On another level, however, the mediums themselves almost converge. There, games become a dynamic, interactive, choose-your-own-adventure equivalent to the static, but rich, three act Hollywood movie experience.

From Spiderman, to the Matrix, from Lord of the Rings to Star Wars, from James Bond, to The Simpsons and CSI: games built around existing TV and movie franchises increasingly dot the lists of popular games for current generation consoles.  And in reverse, Click to Read More

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