Cdigix, a provider of digital entertainment and educational media, is dropping its online music and movie service to focus solely on delivering on-demand educational content.
Cdigix has provided an educational content delivery system, called C-Labs, to schools for a number of years. Now, as of this fall, C-Labs is slated to become the company’s one and only focus. Cdigix is leaving behind its C-Trax solution, an online music and video download service that colleges and universities have used since 2004.
“This is not a departure for us,” said Cdigix CEO Larry Jacobson. “I’d characterize it more as a refocus toward the educational side of our business, which we think has a real need … and a lot of support from schools.”
Jacobson cited a number of reasons for the company’s decision to move away from the digital entertainment side of its business.
“When we talked to administrators on campus as to how we could help them best, they kept focusing us more and more on education and saying that this is what they really needed,” he said.
The tangle of rules and regulations governing the use of digital media also played a role in the decision.
“It’s very hard to make students happy with the legal [music download] services as they currently stand–and, therefore, to make schools happy,” Jacobson explained. “What we found time and time again was that, while we could make a legal service available on campus, students weren’t using it in a meaningful way. At the end of the day, it wasn’t really a music solution for them.”
Citing Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ recent letter pushing for an end to digital rights management (DRM) systems, Jacobson noted the dilemma for students in using a legal digital entertainment service.
“It’s very hard for young people to understand all the rules and regulations about music when they feel all music is available for no or low consequence on pirating sites,” he said. “Looking at the usage level of the music, … it became very clear to us that our customer–the university, not the student–really needs us to … put our efforts behind our educational product.”
By moving away from digital entertainment, Cdigix can now focus its energy on C-Labs. Working like most on-demand systems, the service acts as a distributor of educational content throughout a school’s campus and is available to all students at an affiliated school.
Digital copies of a school’s educational content are stored on a local server set up by Cdigix and are delivered through the school’s local-area network. This allows for faster downloads, as well as the ability to begin watching videos and other educational materials as soon as they start downloading, Jacobson said. Students are only given access to the content that is relevant to their particular courses.
One aspect of C-Labs that probably wouldn’t have been possible had Cdigix not launched C-Trax is the availability of more than 100,000 video titles. If an instructor wants to include a film as part of his or her course, Cdigix is able to take it from the company’s collection and insert it on the server.
The shift won’t greatly affect schools that previously used both C-Labs and C-Trax. For some, such as Yale University, C-Trax was simply a welcome addition, but not the primary reason they teamed up with Cdigix.
“We very much wanted to partner with Cdigix for its educational content,” said Chuck Powell, Yale’s senior director of academic media and technology. “But the music side was definitely a positive for us, simply because we do believe that providing students with a legal alternative is a good thing.”
Cdigix will continue to offer its C-Trax music service through the end of the current school year. The company plans to make the full-time shift to C-Labs come the fall, said Jacobson, who added that the company is working with its music customers to identify other options. “They will decide what to do next with music,” he said. Schools that have only used C-Trax will need a new server to replace their digital entertainment-based one.
“Our view is that, over the next year or two, it’s going to be a lot more common for schools to use tools like [C-Labs],” said Jacobson. “A lot of the thought leaders who are at schools, and who are looking to push digital media in a direction that can unlock their library’s assets, are aware of these.”