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The Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem introduced the cloud-based UltraViolet content platform Tuesday. To use the system, consumers would create an account that would enable them to buy content and access it from any supporting device. Movies and TV shows would be protected through proprietary digital rights management technology.
Device manufacturers, entertainment producers, and other companies that want to offer the UltraViolet service would have to license its technology specifications from the consortium, which plans to make the service available this year. The DECE has said it plans to make its licensing requirements "as light as possible."
Nearly 60 companies belong to the DECE. Members include Best Buy, Cisco, Comcast, Cox Communications, Fox Entertainment, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, LG Electronics, Lionsgate, Microsoft, Motorola, NBC Universal, Netflix, Nokia, Panasonic, Paramount Pictures, Philips, Samsung Electronics, Sony, Toshiba, and Warner Bros. Entertainment.
Missing from the group is Disney, which is building a similar system called Keychest. Disney expects to release Keychest this year.
Also missing is Apple, which offers iTunes as a means for customers to buy and download digital content for the Mac, iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. As it exists today, iTunes would not offer the same level of cross-platform support of UltraViolet. Nevertheless, as of the beginning of the year, Apple commanded as much as 80% of the $250 million market for digitally distributed songs and movies, according to market watcher Screen Digest in London.
The need to develop a cross-platform system for consumers to access moves, TV shows, games, and other digital content from multiple devices has become more urgent as the number of Web-connected devices grows. According to Parks Associates, the number of such devices will grow to 780 million units in 2014 from 350 million this year.