DECE shifts to UltraViolet

Earlier this week, an industry consortium in which Adobe is a founder made some significant announcements. I wanted to help readers of this blog parse the information that was shared and also provide the Adobe/Flash/Flash Access perspective.

The group is known as DECE or Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem, and I’ve written about it before. As of this week, we’ve announced a much more user-friendly brand, UltraViolet. From a purely personal perspective, I have to say that this brand is growing on me — the geek in me likes the implied “beyond blue” (read Blu-Ray). There’s even a website, www.uvvu.com and an associated logo.

You may be asking yourself: So… what does this really mean to me? I think the biggest winner here is the consumer. The model behind UltraViolet, and its main reason for existence, is to create a more seamless experience for purchasing/enjoying premium digital content. In the UVVU universe, a user can buy devices from different retailers and have it play on different devices.

This seems like a pretty obvious thing, but today’s electronic content distribution ecosystem based on silos where a device is “captive” to a given content service does not reflect this. Imagine if you needed a stack of different DVD/BluRay players for content from different studios that you buy from different retailers. That would be crazy, right? Well, that’s the status quo today for electronic content distribution, which UltraViolet hopes to overcome.

What’s in it for the close to 60 member companies from different industries participating in DECE/UVVU? Our shared vision is to create a much bigger pie for electronic content distribution (which today only represents a small percentage of all film/video content sold) by removing some of these artificial barriers. By creating the basic infrastructure, UltraViolet also creates opportunities for innovation in business models by everyone who wants to participate. (You don’t need to be a DECE member in order to offer UltraViolet products or services.)

Is this a done deal? My opinion is that it is still very early days for electronic content distribution in general, and UltraViolet in particular. I’m convinced that in the next several years we will see significant innovation in the content distribution space. In times of significant churn in business models, key players, technologies and consumer expectations, such as the one we live in right now, it is hard to predict what will become the new normal. I believe in the vision of UVVU, now we need to see some actual market adoption and see how well everyone executes to deliver on the vision.

From Adobe’s perspective, we see DECE/UltraViolet as highly complementary to our efforts to help drive rich user experiences around content. For instance, the Open Screen Project is an Adobe-led initiative with close to 80 members (many of them also participating in DECE) working together to help establish a consistent execution runtime across a wide range of devices.

More specifically, DECE’s adoption of Flash Access as an approved content protection solution means that UltraViolet content will be able to flow to Flash-enabled PCs and other devices. Flash Access 2.0 shipped in May of this year, and is supported in Flash Player 10.1 and Adobe AIR 2.0, which shipped in June. Conversely, the ability for people to create interactive experiences around UltraViolet content using the #1 platform for video on the Web means that DECE gets very broad reach right from the start. Everyone wins, especially consumers who will soon be able to purchase premium video without having to worry about which device it will play on. Well, mostly, as some device manufacturers may have their own reasons to not play in this ecosystem.

Florian Pestoni
Principal Product Manager
Adobe Systems

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