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International: Google buys Widevine DRM service, “on demand is in demand”

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International: Google buys Widevine DRM service, “on demand is in demand”

The web is abuzz with news that Google’s acquisition of local services expert Groupon went sour at the eleventh hour, but Google just announced on their official blog that they have “agreed to acquire” Widevine Technologies, a technology provider with expertise in DRM, which can securely deliver video to connected devices.

As per the post written by Mario Queiroz, VP of Product Management, Google Inc, “Widevine has made on demand services more efficient and secure for media companies, and ultimately more available and convenient for users.”

The acquisition also ties in with Google’s recent move to remove torrents and other piracy related sites from the autocomplete feature of Google search, making it that much more unlikely that someone will come across them by accident. While the autocomplete already censored results deemed offensive on grounds of obscenity, the filtering of piracy may well be a move on Google’s part to make them less liable towards charges of piracy, as they likely want to avoid lawsuits like the recent one between them and Viacom over the fact that a user uploaded an entire film onto YouTube.

The Widevine purchase should help manage content distribution for the upcoming Google TV service as well, and if Google can demonstrate that they have robust DRM in place, then it is more likely to attract television networks to partner on Google TV.

While DRM technology is viewed with suspicion by most technology pundits, in the present environment at least, it is impossible to imagine premium content being released without some form of safeguards, and so for Google too, Widevine makes a lot of sense, whether for Google TV or for premium content on YouTube, as an example.

Since Widevine already provides the DRM technology being used by movie studios and leading digital movie distributors Netflix, this can add a robust layer of copy protection to Google’s own streaming offerings.

The new technology could also be very important for Google in helping the growth of Android mobile devices – while Android phones can consume flash videos unlike their iOS counterparts, the majority of Flash video available is not optimised for mobile consumption. Widevine also makes video optimisation technology, and so their presence could help Google make video on demand on Android phones a far more robust offering.

With rapidly improving broadband and wireless speeds, more powerful smartphones, and higher resolution screens on devices of all shapes and sizes, it’s becoming easier than ever to watch video wherever you want, whenever you want. And while it’s still fun to pull an old movie off the shelf and throw it in the DVD player, streaming is rapidly becoming the standard way for you to find the content you want to watch now. We’ve seen this on YouTube—where we get over 2 billion views every day—but it’s much bigger than that, as proven by the increasing popularity of movie subscription services and tablets.

Content creators and distributors are making huge strides in bringing us content in this way, but to do so, many require high-quality video and audio, secure delivery, and other content protection and video optimization technologies. With these tools in place they can easily and effectively give you access to the rich library of content you want to watch, with the immediacy you’ve come to expect.

So we’re pleased to announce that we’ve agreed to acquire Widevine. The Widevine team has worked to provide a better video delivery experience for businesses of all kinds: from the studios that create your favorite shows and movies, to the cable systems and channels that broadcast them online and on TV, to the hardware manufacturers that let you watch that content on a variety of devices. By forging partnerships across the entire ecosystem, Widevine has made on demand services more efficient and secure for media companies, and ultimately more available and convenient for users.

We are committed to maintaining Widevine’s agreements and will provide direct, quality support for their existing and future clients—and we plan to build upon Widevine’s technology to enhance both their products and our own. We’re excited to welcome the Widevine team to Google, and together we’ll work to improve access to great video content across the web.

via: Google Blog []


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