SafeNet Acquires Beep Science

"Oslo-based DRM vendor Beep Science has been acquired by US security technology company SafeNet. The deal, terms of which were not disclosed, was signed a couple of months ago (without publicity) and closed last week. Beep Science's team will join SafeNet offices in Helsinki, Amsterdam, and other European locations. Beep Science's client and server technology for OMA DRM will complement SafeNet's existing DRM server software business, which it acquired from DMDSecure in 2005.

SafeNet has made a string of acquisitions in recent years, including antipiracy service provider MediaSentry, also in 2005. The company started in the 1980s as an enterprise security technology vendor and has essentially become a roll-up.

Its acquisition of Beep Science makes sense from the standpoint of filling gaps in its product line. SafeNet has DRM server software (DRM Fusion) that supports multiple DRMs, including OMA DRM as well as Microsoft Windows Media DRM, and it has considerable expertise in core security technology for consumer device hardware. It counts Samsung, TI, and AMD as customers for the latter. With Beep Science, SafeNet will get both DRM client software and expertise in integrating DRM capabilities with consumer devices. It is now able to sell end-to-end DRM technologies to consumer electronics companies.

The risk in this deal is that Beep Science is exclusively an OMA DRM technology company, so its success is predicated on the future of OMA DRM, particularly OMA DRM 2.0. Although OMA DRM 1.0 has a very large installed base in mobile handsets worldwide, the number of services that have actually deployed OMA DRM 2.0 today is very small. SafeNet expects growth in OMA DRM 2.0 adoption to come in the mobile gaming, mobile broadcast, and e-book spaces, all of which will take some time to develop. It had not been possible for the small, monolithic Beep Science to wait around for OMA DRM 2.0 to take hold in environments like OMA BCast DRM Profile for DVB-H, but a larger and more diverse company like SafeNet can afford to look to a longer time horizon for its revenue.

Still, mobile DRM is an uncertain and fragmented market, even where it is eventually adopted; several technologies are in play, including Microsoft's PlayReady, Marlin, SDC, and potentially Apple's FairPlay in addition to OMA DRM 2.0. It remains to be seen whether SafeNet can successfully integrate Beep Science's technologies with the ones it already has and translate that into opportunities that meet the needs of this ever-changing market."

Source: DRM Watch