Disney Sees Future of Media as Format-Independent

The entertainment giant's "Keychest" technology aims to shift media ownership beyond physical possession

Keychest

Disney wants to unlock your heart ... and digital media deliverySquare Enix/Disney

A digital revolution in past years has gradually unlocked movies and television shows from their traditional formats. Now Disney wants to take things a step further and update the idea of media ownership. Their plan would give owners an access code that allows them to view their entertainment on any number of platforms and gadgets.

The entertainment leviathan's technology goes by the code name "Keychest," and would grant people permanent access to a movie or TV show through any device. A person who buys a movie would have their account with cell phone providers or video-on-demand services updated so that he or she could enjoy the title wherever and however they wish.

Disney's solution looks to circumvent storage and device playability issues with movie downloads by entirely avoiding the download requirement. Instead, movies remain with whatever delivery services are involved, such as Internet service providers or cable companies.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Disney has already demoed the technology for movie studios and technology companies, and notes that Apple may already be on board. But the effort looks set to run headlong into a competing effort called DECE, which involves five major Hollywood studios, Comcast and Intel.

Whatever technology wins out, it's just the latest step in the growing digital trend of delivering all forms of media across a growing number of platforms. Barnes & Noble's e-reader, for one, allows bookworms to access their books using any device with the B&N application installed.

The Los Angeles Times also reported late last year on a private effort to create a high-fidelity music on basic DVD discs that also holds songs as ready-made digital downloads in a variety of formats.

Many people have already become accustomed to the idea of owning a purely online product, such as a digital copy of a video game through Valve's Steam service. But now a wider mass of consumers can get ready to say goodbye to those DVD box sets, and greet a more ethereal type of cloud ownership.