Motorola Investment Forecast: Increased Cloud Cover

Motorola Investment Forecast: Increased Cloud Cover

Sara Jackson is a JD candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School and currently enrolled in the course Law & Social Change: Law & Music, in Winter 2011. As part of the course requirements, students are asked to write a blog on a topic of their choice.

Motorola Mobility made what is considered a strategic investment in Catch Media earlier this year (February 24th, 2011).  Catch Media is a provider of the patented, licensed, digital rights locker platform “Play Anywhere,” which enables users to access their media content from multiple devices (smartphones, car stereo, TV, laptops).

Play Anywhere, previously released in Europe in late 2010, is scheduled to be released in the U.S. in the near future. While Motorola will not disclose the details of the investment, they assert their enthusiasm for Catch Media’s product, stating that it enables carriers and manufacturers to “offer their customers legal and convenient access to their digital content.”

Other cloud services do not require rights holders to provide licences for files that are uploaded and streamed by their owner, which results in a loss of revenue for the entertainment industry as artists and distributors go uncompensated. Catch Media, however, employs a registration, tracking, and clearing-house system, which enables content owners and distributors a means of monetising content on a regular basis. As Harry Maloney, Catch Media’s Advisor in the UK, purports, “for the first time the industry will now monetise stolen content as well as re-monetise purchased content.”

Specifically, the Play Anywhere Licence grants Catch Media the right to transmit media content to a subscriber to whichever device they choose, provided that the media is recorded to exist in their collection. The revenue model banks on the willingness of users to pay either a small monthly subscription or a one-time use fee. Subsequently, a portion of that income is divided between the content aggregator (holder of the content), the content distributor, and retailers (who register and sell content) – ensuring that all participants are compensated for their contribution.

The release of Catch Media’s Play Anywhere is well-endorsed by the entertainment industry. Ari Emanuel, Co-CEO of WME Entertainment, an investor in Catch Media and one of the largest Hollywood talent agencies, exclaims, "Catch Media stands at the forefront of digital media companies seeking to offer consumers maximum convenience while ensuring that all the stakeholders in the process, including the actors, directors and content owners, share in the revenues generated.” As a consequence of this, Catch Media has entered into license agreements with Universal Music Group, Warner Records, and the Endeavor Agency, who manage directors, producers, actors, and writers for a number TV shows in the U.S. Moreover, it appears that Catch Media will have more opportunities to enter into licensing agreements with entertainment companies in the future, as the industry becomes increasingly impressed by the accountability of the service.

To date, Motorola has yet to have access to a pre-supplied content store (like iTunes) or a media locker (like Dropbox).  This investment indicates a potential for both. Additionally, Motorola benefits from moving towards cloud-based storage services as they reduce the need for increasing storage space on mobile devices. Although it has yet to be revealed exactly how Motorola will benefit by this investment, many speculate that it hopes to gain a percentage of access to both of Catch Media’s Play Anywhere and Music Anywhere services. Furthermore, if you consider Motorola’s investment in Catch Media in light of their acquisition of Zector with its ZumoDrive, Motorola has signalled their intent to be a significant player in the cloud computing market.