Jan 18, 2007

Downloadable Movies: Slowest. Technology. Ever.

Yes, we really will all be 107 years old before downloaded films become commonplace. At least it seems like that when the major players (the studios, Apple, etc.) seem so uninterested in making it happen now. Ironically, Netflix, the one business whose model seems so antiquated (the Post Office? Really?), is taking some of the first tentative steps toward it. Netflix subscribers will now be able to download a limited number of hours of streaming movies each month for free. The part is nice. The streaming part, not so much. Here's Ars Technica on Netflix's plan:

The initial selection is fairly thin, with only 1,000 titles available (out of more than 70,000 available on DVD), but this was the same number of DVDs that Netflix launched with back in 1999. It's probably just as well; Netflix has made clear that they want to roll out the new technology slowly to make sure that everything works correctly. As CEO Reed Hastings notes, this isn't a market that is going to pay big dividends for a few years yet.

"While mainstream consumer adoption of online movie watching will take a number of years due to content and technology hurdles, the time is right for Netflix to take the first step," he said. "Over the coming years we'll expand our selection of films, and we'll work to get to every Internet-connected screen, from cell phones to PCs to plasma screens."

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