Netflix News: iPhone/DS? Conspiracy To Devalue Subscriptions? And more!

netflix-website-screenshotTerrific news for some mobile users on the Netflix front: iPhone and Nintendo DS users may have to wait a while, but Netflix chief Reed Hastings and staff have already sent out surveys to gauge what consumers desire when it comes to mobile use of the streaming service. According to HackingNetflix.com, the company is gathering user interest to determine the possibility of an iPhone app (and Nintendo DS interface) with 30 second load times, the ability to fast-forward/rewind and pause the stream, and basically get all the functions and features of Netflix Instant Watch without advertisements similar to the Xbox, PS3 and Wii versions of the streaming service.

Netflix is only hinting at this for now, but their survey speaks volumes about the possible iterations of such a service for mobile device in the future. The only caveat is that the service would not function over 3G networks and only be available using wi-fi (really, all mobile streaming services should have as much clout with AT&T and other mobile network providers that MLB.com has… for they are able to stream live games over 3G without much of a hiccup during playback). CEO Hastings is staying mum on all other details including possible roll-out dates for such an app. So file this under “big wish” for late 2010 or early/mid-2011… Since Netflix has done this type of survey before (attempting to gauge interest in a PS3 or Wii version would seem a no-brainer, but I guess this helps Netflix allocate costs for such a project) and spelled out exactly how such streaming would function via third-party devices, it seems like this will become a reality… so iPhone and Nintendo hand-held users can certainly rejoice, and then wait patiently. For PSP users, the wait might be longer, but keep an eye out for possible surveys for that platform as well.

In other Netflix news… A very unhappy customer is suing Netflix for “restraint of trade”, due to the recent accord Netflix’s Reed Hastings struck with Warner Bros. It seems she and her counsel think that the agreement for a 28-day wait on new releases from Warners represents nothing short of a conspiracy between the two companies and is a breach of the agreement Netflix has with users to deliver new films and causing users to lose value on their monthly membership. We’ll check in with this to see how far it might go (yet another class-action lawsuit against Netflix?) but for now it appears that this is in the early stages and Netflix has yet to truly respond to the matter. You can read the details here.

And lastly… The Netflix Blog has all sorts of hate for Hastings and Company today. Mostly folks are pissed that the subscription mail rental and streaming site is revamping its look, particularly when it comes to the film detail pages where Netflix provides the bulk of information about a film and allows users to share comments and share favorite films with friends. As Netflix is always striving to maintain a clean and easily navigable site, it makes sense to clean up those cluttered pages with only the most important items and information that the majority of general users want. This didn’t fly with some Netflix users who recently bemoaned the loss of Friends lists and other semi-useful features that had more in common with social networking that anything else. Users are upset that their negative comments about the changes on the Netflix blog site have been seemingly deleted by Netflix, so it’s understandable why they would be disgruntled. But hey folks, change happens, and those features weren’t used by everyone. If the dictatorship at Facebook is any indication, expect Netflix to do what they want with their site regardless of how miffed you might be.

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Christian Hokenson

Christian Hokenson

Christian Hokenson enjoys knife throwing, growing exotic mosses, and that warm spot where the sun shines through the corrugated box. Christian also writes for Gadget Review. You can also find Christian on Google+, and Twitter.

5 Replies to “Netflix News: iPhone/DS? Conspiracy To Devalue Subscriptions? And more!”

  1. hdreport says:

    sorry guys – your comments got tossed in spam for some reason.

  2. Sock Puppet says:

    Hey Christian… Thanks for the story. I am another one of the lowly “power users” that Netflix has referred to that is unhappy about some of the changes made to the site. Some of which simply do not make any sense.

    According to Netflix their reasoning was:

    1.) To make it easier to find TV shows and related content.
    Really? How does removing the links to other seasons of TV shows (making you have to use the search feature to find them) make it “easier”? Also how does removing lists that contain that title in it (created by avid fans) make it easier to find related content? The logic simply does not add up.

    2.) The recommended slider at the bottom of the new page is supposed to be helpful.
    I did a search to find any documentaries that covered the Salem Witch Trials, and found one produced by the History Channel. At the bottom where it shows other titles I “might” enjoy that are “supposedly” More like the documentary from the history channel there were the following. Fraggle Rock: Season 1 (season 2 & 3, but not 4), Scooby-Doo! Abracadabra-Doo and a few others that were totally unrelated. How is that more helpful then lists made by users who usually have more related titles?

    It would simply be nice if someone from Netflix would give even a generic response, something they have yet to do.

  3. fielden says:

    Sorry if this double posts – I don’t believe comments are moderated.

    The new page layout is good visually.
    Functionality of the new design however, leaves a lot to be desired. Change simply for change sakes isn’t good. This was evisceration not simplification. They could have simplified through using tabs or customization. In the following areas things are now much more cumbersome, annoying, or downright undoable leaving me irritated and frustrated with the Netflix site. It also ignores context.

    All the removed functionality can be seen at: http://api.ning.com/files/ghLs6T*aY7*pqOcsRH7jpBwhVsF57HBm-y99OOGHECYtvEnB*orcxBV9QtbpaT9cDInn7aPPKhdQOLbuqQop6zeaItf2nkal/clip.png

    1.Where is the Leave a Note function? This is my preferred way to receive/send friends recommendations for titles – reverting to an email client is far less convenient and the message ends up where it not relevant – in my email account not in my Netflix account where I can act on the message where it makes most sense – on the Netflix site.

    2. Where are my friends ratings if they’ve seen the movie?
    I often only visit the movie description page to see if my friends have seen a movie and their rating. And the sense of discovery is now lost – Oh Bob’s seen that movie, or all my friends but me have seen this movie I’ve never heard of. I am not going to follow all the clicks it now takes to get to my friends list of watched movies and then search for their rating.

    3. If I’ve rated the movie – Netflix now shows me my rating in 2 locations on the page- under the title image and in the right hand box with the date of the rating. This makes little sense when the At Home, Rating, Date info, Add/Watch buttons could all be handled under the image leaving the right hand box for the now missing friends/notes features.

    4. Where are the top 10 lists, “people who enjoyed this also enjoyed” and “More Like This” features? These helped me discover lots of great titles and even entire genres. My understanding is that creating/adding to lists is also far more cumbersome now than before.

    5. And my nomination for least useful “feature” on the friends and home page: the “Loved”/”Hated” boxes. You can’t see WHICH of your friends loved/hated the title and by how much – which makes it useless for helping to evaluate the movie. THERE’S NO CONTEXT or granularity to make sense of that designation.

    6. Finally, with the respect to titles that have many seasons or sequels. Previously the additional entries were listed in the left hand column “Related Movies”, making it easy to find and add them.

    Now you have to search on the title to find them, and the results are often mixed up or the sequence is not clear. This change now makes what was an easy process extremely cumbersome.

    Facebook connect is not an adequate substitute for the friends features – again it’s not in the context where it is most relevant and I prefer it – the Netflix site, as well as the fact not all Netflix users are on Facebook (shock, surprise), and finally it means more clicks and steps – it does not enhance functionality or the user experience. Additionally for people who use Facebook professionally (an ever growing number) they may not be comfortable pulling their queue in (I certainly won’t ever do it).

    I simply don’t understand the removal of so many features that made Netflix unique, easy to use, and enhanced a participating users experience.

    At the very least Netflix should let people have these features as an “opt-in” to them as modules on a customization page ala Yahoo, iGoogle, netVibes etc.

    The web team at Netflix should have taken a Persona oriented approach to site rather than a least common denominator for the masses one.

  4. Well put… I was hoping someone that cared about the Friends features would chime in with their two cents on the matter. Thanks for adding your opinion on this, WaltD. Hopefully, Netflix will listen to their users more than Facebook or similar web services do… it seems the outcry against Netflix on this issue is rather large.

  5. Walt D in LV says:

    Understanding that the Friends feature may not be used by a majority of Netflix users, it was definitely used by the most enthusiastic, and active users. Sure, I’m willing to guess that MOST Netflix users have an account they rarely use, getting maybe a few movies a month, and that those are the users Netflix prefers: those who don’t use the service a lot, i.e. don’t cost anything to the company, but still pay the monthly fee.

    However, the more active users are also the ones that are exuberant in their talks about the service, that scream from the rooftops how great the service is and “Oh my goodness, you don’t use Netflix?! It’s the best!” type of comments.

    The needs of the many may exceed the needs of the few, but if the few are your free advertising, they should hold more weight.
    How easy is it to get a friend to use Netflix when you tell ’em that they can see what you rated a movie, leave a note for ’em etc, versus, oh yeah, they mail you the DVDs so you don’t have to go to Blockbuster. Well, Blockbuster does that, and then you can take their mail DVD to their store to exchange for another.

    No, the Friends feature was something that made Netflix stand out.

    Walt D in LV

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