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Hollywood, Silicon Valley Form DECE

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Big names in media, technology and retailing are banding together to form a Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) that promises to make content easy to download and play on any device. Warner Bros., Fox Entertainment, NBC, Comcast, Microsoft, and Best Buy are just some of the companies involved, and if history is any guide, this DECE will be all bark and no bite.

Details won’t be fully announced until CES in January, but we do know that the mission of the group is to increase the ease and interoperability of paid content: Download it from any participating site, play it back on any participating player (there will be a handy logo on devices so you know it will work).

The DECE will also offer the option of a centralized virtual locker so a user wouldn’t even have to download the content. It could be stored in the cloud and accessed anywhere.

Sure sounds like a good idea, but won’t so many cooks in the digital kitchen spoil this content stew?

As my colleague Janko pointed out, a similar idea was tried out on the music side a few years ago. The Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) was formed in 1998 with more than 200 tech, consumer and recording companies. It died in 2001. Giant companies have a hard enough time getting their own stuff out the door, let alone working with this many competitors.

As others have pointed out, Apple is not listed among the DECE’s participants, and neither is Apple’s BFF, Disney, leading to a natural assumption that this is an end-run around iTunes to prevent Steve Jobs from dominating the video space like he does music. The enemy of my enemy is my friend and all that. Amazon, CBS, Verizon and AT&T have also not yet signed on.

Comcast is certainly hedging its bets by signing on to this consortium to make it easier for you to download all the digital content you want… while implementing a bandwidth cap just in case you start getting any funny ideas about dumping your cable service.

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