I'm worried people, and I really need you all to know why. The Internet Tubes(TM) were full today about how the BBC are on the cusp of releasing an on-demand service for their license fee payers to download programmes. Once that lot had sloshed through, the next wadge of cybernews to pop out of the pipe was the new Bittorrent Network and how they're going to effectively be getting their users to pay the bandwidth bills to distribute a wide selection of content - including some very interesting HD content from prime-time providers. And the biggest problem with all this? Not a single second of any of this content will play on the Mac. So, this isn't a post when I'm going to rant about Microsoft and their proprietary formats ad nauseam... I've been there, done that, and to be honest, I can't really blame Microsoft for wanting to get the dominant hold on the media market. Its not fair that they are doing it by sheer dumb-numbers (with 95% of all computers sold having Windows Media installed on them by default really without the user having much say or knowing much different), but bollocking-on about how this isn't fair nah nah nah isn't going to change the situation. Competition is. The most exciting news today is that iTunes is on course to beat RealPlayer to the number 2 slot for installed based of media players (http://www.ipodnn.com/articles/07/02/27/itunes.beats.realplayer/). This really isn't a mean feat, when you consider the sheer overwhelming effort it takes most pig-thick or appallingly apathetic users to realise there are other players out there, and figure out how to download and use them. Content producers, at the end of the day, don't really give two hoots what digital format is being used to distribute their content. So long as Johnny TwelveYearOld isn't able to stick the movie on his £10 memory stick, take it into school, and give it to all his mates, they're happy. DRM. Yes, that most-hated of acronyms is the real lynchpin here. It makes no sense for the content providers to be releasing big money content like movies without DRM right now. The cost of a DVD is significantly higher than the cost to a user of downloading a movie file off some P2P network - un-DRM'ed movie content would quickly kill DVD and any pay-for content. But the problem is that content providers actually don't have an option right now. Their only choice is to go with Windows Media protected DRM, or do nothing at all. Both the BBC and the Bittorrent Network both could not to nothing any more, and had to bite the bullet when going with WMV DRM. I'm guessing neither really had a penchant for WMV over anything else, but there was no 'anything else' to go with. So, all us Mac users are left with is one line at the end of some ****** FAQ: Q: Will this video play on my Mac/Linux machine? A: Currently, video playback requires Windows XP or Vista with Windows Media Player... etc.... ...blah, blah, blah... The only answer to this is a cross-platform DRM scheme not controlled by Apple or Microsoft. Ideally, it'll plug into iTunes, so that Windows and Mac users at least can gain access to it. If Apple aren't going to license FairPlay, then someone else has to do it for them. Let's be honest, if Apple were keen to license FairPlay, this would instantly solve the problem comprehensively. Of course all the content providers would instantly jump on the bandwagon - they'd get the video iPod / iPhone 'for free'. The prognosis for video on the Mac, if the current state of DRM goes unchecked, is that the Mac platform is going to become increasingly more ostracised as a media platform. Apple are winning no war by keeping FairPlay unlicensed, and a complete lack of any alternative to WMV makes this decision even more dangerous. Someone needs to do something. And now. I want to be able to participate in this digital movie download revolution. Apple are dragging their heels releasing movies (both a reasonable collection, and outside the US), and I don't care for their download-to-own model anyway (works for music, but I rarely want to watch a movie more than once. I only want to rent movies). Or, I want someone (like Real tried to do with RealPlayer, but not so sucky) to come up with some kind of cross-platform DRM system - maybe even something that plugs directly into iTunes (works transparently). I'm worried that unless someone does something, I'm going to have to be watching my media on something other than the Mac systems I love. This is a plea to all software developers and bright sparks out there. Come up with an alternative to WMV. License it across platforms. License it cheap. Please help keep my platform viable.