Converging against Darwin

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, January 16, 2007 at 06:37 AM with 3 comments

Today Netflix, the popular DVD-by-mail service, announced it will begin offering the ability for customers to instantly watch movies over the Internet. You can read their press release here:

http://www.netflix.com/MediaCenter?id=5384

As a Netflix customer and someone who likes to see companies break from the mold of purely physical music and video, this is a step forward. Though it is only available to Windows PC users, I think it will be popular as they are planning a phased approach and have worked it into their existing pricing model. This way, you should actually be able watch a movie without the servers being taxed too much, and you won’t have to change anything to do so.

Of course this enhancement is not perfect. You are not downloading a video to watch at your convenience, you are watching a streamed movie on your PC. Also, not all movie titles will be made available for viewing. But after waiting weeks to receive DVDs over the recent holidays, it will be a nice option to have, and an even nicer choice when Comcast’s On-Demand service does not have anything I am interested in, which for me was the catalyst for signing up for Netflix in the first place.

It will be interesting to see the reaction of the movie industry to this offering – will they jump on the bandwagon, or just make their back catalog available? It is a step by a major player in the direction of a pure digital world of watching or listening to whatever, whenever, a step towards convergence that is easier to use without having to buy a pricey, flat-screen telephone.

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