Netflix Online: return to sender

Today just might be the happiest day for all my friends who worked for networking and telecom companies at the turn of the century, but lost their gigs thanks to the greedy machinations of Broadbandits.

netflix.gifThey are soon going to find new employment, thanks to collective delusion of companies big and small. The new idea? They all want to offer consumers online video (including movies) to watch on their PCs – an unproven market – which is looking as crowded as midtown Manhattan during rush hour.

Lets check off the players for now – Amazon, Movielink, CinemaNow, Apple and a bunch of others who I refuse to remember because a brain only has limited capacity for names that will soon be relegated to the dustbin of failed ideas. Latest to jump headfirst into a pan of boiling oil is Netflix, which is going to spend more than $40 million in order to offer a streaming video service that would allow you to watch but not burn the movies on DVD or other media.

I thought you could do exactly that with any cable company’s video-on-demand service. And you can‘t watch those movies on your big screen, no software required. Just because a company thinks it can stuff DVDs in an envelope, it can make a go of the online video business. Remember all those people who got into online music business, only to leave with lighter wallets and bruised shins.

Here are some fun facts about this “new offering” from Netflix:

* It’s streaming, not download. GOT that!

* No burning video to a DVD

* Still, this is free to existing subscribers, the only “applaudable” move by NetFlix. Or, as Donna Bogatin says, “unlimited DVD rental does not equate to unlimited online movie watching.”

* Only 1,000 titles will be available, or less than 2 percent of the Netflix catalog.

* You need a 3 megabit/second connection to watch a DVD-quality movie. Oh, let’s see how those discount DSL users really feel about the picture quality of NetFlix.

“It’s a nifty marketing gimmick for Netflix … it’s not a breakthrough in the web-based movie distribution business. .. it’s just streamed movies over the Internet,” writes Cynthia Brumfield. Word!

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