Mac Mini To be Based on Intel’s Locked-Down Viiv?

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Think Secret says at Macworld in January Apple will unveil an online media distribution system for streaming tons of content to the living room, including feature-length movies.

One of the analysts interviewed wondered whether the Mac mini, which Think Secret says will be revamped, could be based on Intel’s new Viiv platform, a set of branded chip technologies for home entertainment devices.

Among other things, Viiv (which rhymes with “five”) provides a secure platform for sharing copy-protected media among devices in the home, as well as out of it — like loading TV shows on handhelds and laptops, for example.

Intel has been busy signing up dozens of partners in consumer electronics, as well as Hollywood and the music biz, according to the WSJ (registration required). Tivo is a partner, as is British Sky Broadcasting and Movielink, a joint movie-download service from five major movie studios.

Viiv works with Microsoft’s Media Center and the upcoming Windows Vista, but could Apple also be involved, basing the new Mac mini on Viiv?

Either way, publications like the Enquirer and Hardware Analysis, think Viiv is bad news for consumers.

The technology will allow content to be locked down, limiting what consumers can do with movies or music they buy in digital format, even if it’s within their “fair use” rights.

In addition, “unauthorized” hardware like homebrew Linux boxes will be locked out of the legitimate digital content market. As I suggested before — this is the real reason Apple is switching to Intel — so that it can sell copy-protected digital entertainment securely online.

It may not be all doom and gloom. Intel says Viiv will play unprotected content.

According to the WSJ: “With Viiv, Intel tried to make sure that consumers can still use unprotected content — such as CDs they rip — as they can now, Mr. Corbett said.”

But note the telling phrase: “Intel tried to make sure that consumers can still use unprotected content.”

  • Trent Lapinski

    So in 5 years we’ll be looking back thinking, “Remember in 2005 when consumers were allowed to own what they bought?”

    Hurray for innovation! [/sarcasm]