Disney is looking into new technology that could help DVD take a few more steps toward obsolescence. Currently dubbed Keychest, the system would allow users to purchase a piece of media one time, then access it instantly on (ideally) any of their devices, whether that be phone, iPod, computer or On Demand cable system.
The Wall Street Journal carried the first story about the tech yesterday, and dubbed it ‘Ditch the DVD’. The theory behind Keychest is simple: use ‘cloud computing” — essentially a technique to stream media — to allow movies and TV shows to be stored on remote servers and then accessed from any device. Users buy a single access pass to that piece of media, then in the example given, could end up watching part of it on their phone, part at home and the rest at someone else’s house, all using the same access pass.
Cloud computing is a great thing, so long as the cloud remains intact. T-Mobile’s Sidekick devices rely upon a cloud to retain user data such as photos and address books. Recently the cloud went down, and a great deal of customer data was lost. In the case of Keychest, one would expect that purchased access codes would not be easily lost, and at most there might be periods where movies and shows were inaccessible. But even that is a problem; if I’ve paid for any-time access to something, I want any-time access.
That’s not the only problem facing the tech. Getting content rights holders on board is one issue. Getting devices to be compatible is another. In this case, given that Steve Jobs is a primary Disney shareholder, Apple could likely be on board. And, as is so often the case, there is already a competing standard. Sony is part of a project called DECE that similarly aims to change the ways in which consumers purchase and store media.
But Disney’s goal is admirable: “Our vision for the future is that consumers won’t have to think about where they bought [a movie], how they bought it, or when they bought it.” Having just gone through the process of moving, I’ve realized that I am 100% done with owning DVDs, so I’d add one more thing to that pile of intentions: I don’t want to think about where my movies are kept, or how to store and move them.
What do you think? Are we close enough to an all-digital media future that a project like this has a chance of success? - Russ Fischer