Digital rights management (DRM) will remain an integral tool for content providers and IT vendors looking to safeguard their products from piracy and thereby their revenue streams, given the rising popularity of on-demand content and mobile devices.
However, the challenge of new formats, platforms and evolving business models resulting in fragmentation will need to be resolved for the market to mature, say industry watchers.
Pranabesh Nath, Asia-Pacific ICT research manager at Frost & Sullivan, said the rapid growth in the number of multimedia-enabled consumer electronics and connected mobile devices such as e-book readers has fueled a corresponding spike in the number of DRM clients shipped.
In fact, internal research showed DRM's market size was at US$977.2 million in 2012 and is expected to reach US$2.96 billion in 2017, Nath pointed out.
Cloud computing and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trends are also driving innovation in the media and content industry, as consumers acquire high-performance mobile devices to consume content any time and anywhere, said Bengt Jonsson, Asia-Pacific vice president of sales at Irdeto, a content security vendor.
With better Internet connectivity and the proliferation of video-capable smartphones and tablets, the pressure is on service providers to stream live TV programs as well as video-on-demand and bring new releases onto these devices. Content owners and operators are thus compelled to offer a level of flexibility that meets consumer demands while ensuring they can still fully monetize the content, Jonsson explained.
Market fragmentation needs to be hurdled
Nath noted the DRM market remains in a flux and, as it is in a growth phase, this means there will be emerging use cases, new content formats, device platforms and evolving business models for DRM vendors to factor in to their product offerings.
These issues must be resolved before the market can realize its full potential and move toward maturity, he stated.
One company deploying DRM tools, Storage Made Easy, told ZDNet Asia the market fragmentation is affecting how it is approaching deploying DRM for its services.
CEO Jim Liddle said its clients are businesses with data files in various formats, and stored in different IT environments such as on the cloud. Given the situation, it makes it more difficult for the company to embed DRM-- in this case Microsoft's Information Rights Management tool--on their clients' data files, he revealed.
Jonsson added the one-size-fits-all approach will not work in today's world of content delivery on the go, so DRM vendors will need to remain platform-agnostic in order to remain relevant while still helping their customers offer their content in a seamless, secure manner to end-users.
The more successful DRM tools should ideally address multiple ecosystems, span a large number of devices, and cover the entire chain of delivery from content creation to consumption, he added.