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Video: it’s not just for cable anymore

Moving video — particularly high-quality video — around remains a difficult problem complicated by large file sizes, incompatible file formats, diverse sources and rights management issues. Last week at the DigitalLife Press Preview and other events, I met with several companies that see a bright future for more fluid exchange of this emotionally powerful content type.

  • Seagate sees video as a key medium to drive storage, from the big racks of hard drives used to store it on Internet servers to microdrives inside portable video players and the relatively untapped area of mobile digital video. Rights management issues will need to be worked out for this dream to become a reality.
  • Vongo. One of the favored competitors in the PC space, it offers a Netflix-like subscription without the queue as well as pay-per-view movies. Movies can be played on up to three PCs and the service is working on compatibility with Portable Media Center.
  • ITVN. This company offers set-top boxes somewhat similar to Akimbo and offers a number of packages, including adult content. It's still putting the pieces together in terms of how different video packages might work. It offers the Starz feed as Vongo does, but displays it on a television without any Media Center machinations.

So, there are signs of progress, but it's still early. While ITVN and Vongo charge for their content, Apple faces a tougher battle here that it has with music because it's carrying a lot of content that people really do expect to be free.