By Richard Menta 1/24/05
Ever since I reviewed the Archos Jukebox Multimedia in October of 2002 I pondered when the movie and TV industries would provide content for these portables. Sites like MovieLink did appear, but the last time I spoke with Archos they were still trying to negotiate a way to make these paid downloads function with their players.
Unfortunately for Archos, the movie industry was hesitant to do this for a long while. This came from the lack of a digital rights mechanism that made them comfortable enough that users could not make copies of these files and trade them. Of course, Archos owners simply turn to the free P2P services to download their movies, bypassing the pay services.
The Olympus m:robe MR-500i Digital Music/Video Player is available on Amazon
These services have yet to take off, but several elements are soliciting a change. The introduction of Microsoft's latest version of Windows Media offers a DRM that somewhat satisfies the film industry. Meanwhile, the Apple iPod's dominance in the portable music player market has driven competitors like Creative Technologies and iRiver to follow Archos' lead and add video as a market differentiator.
The portable player manufacturers are not the only ones looking to video. As Apple's iTunes dominates the paid music content market as well as the iPod does digital music players, iTunes competitors are looking to new areas to expand into.
At the Midem music conference in Cannes, Napster's CEO Chris Gorog stated that his company is looking to sell movie files on its service. Napster, who already utilize Microsoft's DRM scheme, is no doubt targeting portable media players (PMP) that also utilize the Microsoft copyright mechanism. This includes Creative's Zen Portable Media Center.
As Gorog told the Financial Times "We are currently considering moving into video, particularly to tap the younger video game generation. I do think that while there are huge players in the delivery of movies like Sky, there could be a role for Napster".
Look for more iTunes competitors to make similar announcements in the coming months. Anything that will give them a leg up over the Apple offerings is on the table for these services. They may have to act fast too.
Robert X. Cringely in his article The New Mac Mini is All About Movies is already predicting that the Mac Mini is a first step for Apple to market video downloads. Steve Jobs' insider movie mogul role (through Pixar) certainly helps him with regards to landing content agreements.
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