Now that we own digital content in a lot of different places, several companies are working on the problem of making it accessible everywhere. Skifta, owned by Qualcomm, is one such player with a new Android app, and an affinity for DLNA. The Skifta set-up is reasonably simple. Download the app on your phone and install the software on your computer or NAS drive. Skifta will also work with the content already on your phone or stored in certain web-based media services. Choose your content source, your DLNA playback device (including many of Dave’s Boxes of the Year), and you can start streaming from your phone.
I spoke with Skifta exec Gary Brotman recently about what’s in store for the product, and why he thinks the application has potential. He said Skifta is signing up as many services as possible to enable media playback from more web-based apps, and that the company has a developer program in the works as well. DVRs would be a natural fit for Skifta, but (with the TiVo and Moxi exceptions) would require support from cable/telco providers. Brotman agreed and acknowledged that the company is continually looking for new and useful integration points. Brotman also noted that the Skifta model is an attractive one for content studios because it provides access to media without leaving any cached copies lying around. When you leave a location, your media leaves with you.
Unfortunately, Skifta currently only works with Android 2.2 and above, so my Eris leaves me out of luck for an app trial, but I hope to get an on-site demo at CES next week. Although I love the concept of Skifta, I have certain reservations about how well it can succeed. First, it’s competing against other better-known services like Orb, which also automatically transcodes media for customized playback. Second, the company has to have incredible luck to get the timing right for its product. Video is the killer app for Skifta since you can already plug in a music player virtually anywhere, and photos on a large-screen TV aren’t terrifically compelling. That said, getting good video quality from Skifta would require a great wireless connection, a compatible phone, and a DLNA playback device. And once enough people meet all of those requirements, there may be an easier way to access media either directly from the web or by side-loading content. Can Skifta get critical mass early enough? It’s hard to know. But I’m certainly in favor of this trend toward making my media accessible anywhere.