Wireless E-Commerce Makes Strides

By Mark Hachman  |  Posted 2004-02-03 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The Open Mobile Alliance announced an "enabler release" of its second-generation DRM specification while a group of tech companies and Warner Bros. announced a trust framework called the Content Management License Administrator.

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.—Wireless e-commerce took two steps ahead on Monday, paving the way for improved digital rights management on mobile devices.

The Open Mobile Alliance, whose diverse membership encompasses a significant portion of the wireless industry, announced an "enabler release" of its second-generation DRM specification on here Monday. While not absolutely final, the document will allow content providers, rights management companies and other members of the OMA to begin developing applications that will support the authorized download and playback of richer content, such as audio files, movie clips and other applications.

Separately, a collection of technology companies plus Warner Bros. Studios announced a trust framework called the Content Management License Administrator. When completed, the CMLA will provide a standard set of legal agreements and compliance standards, ensuring that each company's products maintain interoperability with the OMA DRM 2.0 framework.

Both the OMA DRM release and the CMLA are designed to help wireless network providers, device makers and content providers move beyond the background images, ringtones and Java games that have characterized the first generation of downloadable content. The OMA DRM 2.0 release comes a little more than a year after the alliance released the 1.0 DRM specifications, pushed quickly to market to set up a basic DRM framework.

"I think the potential market is much bigger than just personalization," said Barney Wragg, vice president of Universal Music Group's eLabs division in London. "That was just a first-generation product. First-generation monophonic ringtones—nobody really thought there was a multibillion-dollar business there."

ARK Group, a U.K.-based analyst firm, has estimated that by 2008 the mobile content market could top $28 billion, of which just under $7 billion could be derived from mobile music alone—a market that hasn't been properly served with the first rights management specification, executives said.

"While Version 1 offered more security, trust models were required," said Willms Buhse, vice chair for the Open Mobile Alliance Download and DRM Group and head of product marketing at Germany's CoreMedia AG, a content management company. With the number of mobile phones, multimedia devices and broadband wireless increasing, "we see a strong market need for DRM to protect that high-value content."

OMA members said they were more deliberate with the second release to get the standard right. The reason? Fears of a mobile version of the original Napster.

"The top requirement we received from content providers [for OMA DRM 2.0] was greater security and trust management," Buhse said.

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