Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem launches without Apple

New DRM for digital media on the way
New DRM for digital media on the way

More than 20 hardware, software, content and retail companies today announced the launch of the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) consortium, an organisation promising to build a new digital media framework that will enable consumers to acquire and play content easily across a wide range of services and devices.

Alcatel-Lucent, Best Buy, Cisco, Comcast, Fox, HP, Intel, Lionsgate, Microsoft, NBC Universal, Paramount Pictures, Philips, Sony, Toshiba, VeriSign and Warner Bros are all playing nicely together to develop the DRM specification, which will come with a 'recognizable' brand and logo.

Burn after buying

The new standard will allow you to buy music and video online at various online retailers, store it in a virtual vault or at home, play it on a range of devices and even burn it onto physical media.

DECE president Mitch Singer says, "We're taking the lessons learned from the successful 'buy once, play anywhere' experience that we enjoy with CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray today, and using a similar approach in developing the next generation digital media experience."

Er, would those be the same DVDs and Blu-rays that Hollywood tried everything in its power to stop consumers transferring to portable players?

CES 09 launch date?

Rewriting history may just be a matter of issuing a press release but overcoming the iTunes-sized elephant in the room may prove more problematic for DECE. Apple has jealously guarded its iTunes/iPod gilded cage and its absence from this consortium doesn't bode well for the new standard.

We're not expecting full technical details of DECE until CES 09, though, so that gives the gang a good four months to get Jobs and co on board. Anyone taking bets?

Mark Harris is Senior Research Director at Gartner.