Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

The Cloud Is Getting Crowded: Hollywood Lines Up Behind M-Go, Another Digital Storefront

Want to buy a digital movie? Hollywood wishes you would, because DVD sales are falling off and haven’t been replaced by purchases from Apple and Amazon’s online stores.

So, here comes another option: M-Go, a cloud/locker app/service backed by DreamWorks Animation and Technicolor, that will be part digital storefront, part digital “discovery” service.

M-Go won’t launch until later this fall, but today the company is announcing that it has distribution deals with most of Hollywood’s biggest studios: Sony, NBCUniversal, Paramount, Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox (Fox is owned by News Corp, as is this Web site).

The pitch: Consumers will be able to use M-Go to purchase movies (and eventually TV shows, and perhaps, one day, music) and watch them wherever they’d like — on connected TVs, PCs and mobile phones.

M-Go will have dedicated apps for some TVs and PCs, like Intel Ultrabooks; for other platforms, like Apple’s iOS, the movies will be available on a Web browser. M-Go will also link consumers to other digital storefronts, like Apple’s iTunes, though movies purchased there won’t work on M-Go.

Nothing wrong with that, in concept. The question is whether consumers aren’t buying movies because they’re worried that they won’t work on multiple devices, or because they’ve concluded that they really don’t need to own most movies.

Studios are hoping it’s the former, which is why they’ve already backed UltraViolet, a consortium of tech and media companies that’s trying to solve the same problem. M-Go will be compatible with UltraViolet titles, so that’s good.

Less good is the fact that Disney, which isn’t part of the UltraViolet coalition, isn’t a part of M-Go, either. And Disney/Pixar’s kids’ movies are the kind of movies consumers are most likely to decide they need to own — which may be why Disney is approaching the cloud/locker question with its own Keystone technology.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik