File this under AV Trendspotting and watch how this emerging application/technology changes consumer consumption of digital content:
While appearing to have double the collection of Apple TV of Vudu, what do you get in Netflix’s 10,000 movie collection? Basically, you get a lot of back catalog (classic movies) and a lot of TV shows (unheard of in rental situations!) right as they hit the market. But you don’t get the same blockbusters on day one release that you’d get from Apple TV or VuDu. That makes the Netflix box and disc system a great supplement to those systems, which seem to specialize in new releases. (Kudos to Saul from the NYTimes for discovering this initially.) The business model behind a flat rate unlimited streaming system is unheard of. Sure, they’re taking a lot of older content, which is inherently cheaper. But think of it this way. For a nine-dollar-a-month account, you can hold off on buying older DVDs or watching TV shows.
What intrigues me here is that some popular materials libraries buy a lot of TV series on DVD, breaking them into parts and circulating them. Will the popularity and reasonable availability of a box like this change this model? How long will it take for this to become the norm in some/many/most households?
Just a bit more from the article:
Netflix is planning HD streaming and this box will support it. When Netflix gets HD streaming content, they’ll update the box by firmware to support HD resolutions at higher bitrates of 4-6mbps, including 5.1 surround (everything is stereo now.) The menus will also be upgraded to HD res, too. In the future, the Roku-branded box will be upgraded to accept non-Netflix content, too. (And btw, the update on the Mac client situation is that they’re just trying to sort out the DRM issues, or lack of a suitable system they can stream to Macs on.)