News.com's John Borland has reported that Intel is forming a joint venture with Revelations Entertainment (actor Morgan Freeman's movie production company) called ClickStar. The purpose of the joint venture will be to distribute, via download, first run movies over the Internet. The story focuses mainly on the impact that such ventures might have as a destablizing force to DVD sales -- something that many Hollywood types won't take to kindly to. At least initially. To woo Hollywood executives, the story says that Intel and Revelations have been working on a model digital home in Los Angeles that showcases the latest in digital entertainment gear. For me, though, and my ongoing series of stories about Microsoft's media juggernaut, the most important part of the story is buried at the bottom. Wrote Borland:
The new service is expected to launch in early 2006, using Microsoft Windows Media technology and digital rights management. The venture is not yet announcing any studio content that will be available through the service, but participants said other studios have been receptive to the idea in early discussions.
As I've written many times before, Apple may have a huge number of iPods in the market, but the only company that has laid any serious digital entertainment infrastructure -- from deals with content providers to deals with telecommuncations companies and others in a key position to distrubute (eg: TiVo) -- is Microsoft. By themselves, most Silicon Valley technology companies don't have a lot of clout in Hollywood. But with Morgan Freeman at its side, Intel now has serious clout for a digital content project that its backing, and that other studios can leverage. Clout that Microsoft must be loving every single bit of given the project's technology selection. By the way, I agree with the selection since no other digital media platform offers the reach that Windows Media does when it comes to distributing video. What other choice do you have if you're going to publish downloadable video? As I said once before (see Will Microsoft's monoculture take the 'pod' out of podcasting?), "to the extent that the publishers of those multimedia casts want to reach the biggest target, they may also end up stretching the Microsoft monoculture beyond the desktop into everything that's digital, including but not limited to handhelds, cameras, phones (OK, those are converging anyway), rights management, and networks."