Each week Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, a column about technology, multimedia, and digital entertainment:
This week brought news that copy protection powerhouse Macrovision had continued its acquisition streak by purchasing Mediabolic for $43.5 million. Neither company is a household name, but both provide ingredient technologies for the digital home. Macrovision's offerings have been used to deter copying since the days of videotape and in Mediabolic's short history it worked with consumer brands such as Pioneer, Maxtor (now Seagate), and HP. With Mediabolic's assets, Macrovision will seek to appeal to both ends of the tug of war between device manufacturers and content owners. It hopes to use Mediabolic's modular system for handling the messy plumbing involved in distributing content around the home or from the Net as bait to support rights-managed content.
On one hand, the timing of the announcement seems primed for what will be the best year ever for the digital home at CES. The best news will be around home network bandwidth. After many political battles and their resulting delays, high-speed wireless networking in the form of 802.11n as well as a viable wired alternative in HomePlug AV will finally arrive in 2007, as will the simpler high-speed wireless connections enabled by Wireless USB. To the extent that Windows is used as a platform for serving or enjoying home media, the imminent arrival of Windows Vista will improve those experiences.