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DRM Interoperability Remains Elusive PDF Print E-mail
Written by IMS Research   
09 Jan 2007

DRM Interoperability Remains Elusive  
Though the consumer electronics industry has begun to focus on enabling the consumption of content everywhere, the ability to transfer content between devices is still often problematic. Increasingly, the root cause is not technological capability, but rather the lack of a rare quantity – digital rights management (DRM) interoperability.

While the physical and technical capabilities to connect various media devices such as digital video recorders (DVRs), portable media players, multimedia cellular handsets, and PCs have existed for years, it is frequently business concerns which prevent content from being transferred freely between all of these devices. Portability of content is implemented via DRM being attached to the content and limiting its use and ability to be moved and copied. According to analyst Paul Erickson of IMS Research, “We see companies’ dual need to monetize content and control its revenue stream as being the main limiters of DRM interoperability. While content owners have a legitimate need to protect their intellectual property, consumers frequently wish it were possible to freely move their legitimately-acquired content to devices of their choosing – something that is not quite possible today.”

Due to an increasing stratification of the market into silo-like ecosystems of allied hardware, content, and distribution partners, the business need to control the revenue generated within each ecosystem is expected to continue limiting the possibility of true DRM interoperability across devices and brands. With the growing portable media player market shipping nearly 173 million units worldwide in 2006 according to IMS Research estimates, the call for interoperable DRM systems will continue rising. However, as content providers move to offering even higher-value HD content via broadcast or HD-DVD and Blu-ray media, companies’ desire to control how and where content can be consumed is only expected to increase.

DRM interoperability is one of many crucial topics examined in IMS Research’s recently-published report, “DRM and the Implications for Digital Video Content – An Examination of Current Industry Thinking.” This report provides qualitiative analysis of several current issues revolving around digital rights management and the protection of digital video. The report combines IMS Research’s analysis of the market with insights gained from more than 35 interviews of industry experts.

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