Thursday, January 18, 2007

Here it comes...

Netflix is finally making good on its promise—they're offering instantly downloadable movies through their web site:

LOS GATOS, California (AP) -- Netflix Inc. will start showing movies and TV episodes over the Internet this week, providing its subscribers with more instant gratification as the DVD-by-mail service prepares for a looming technology shift threatening its survival.

The Los Gatos-based company plans to unveil the new "Watch Now" feature Tuesday, but only a small number of its more than 6 million subscribers will get immediate access to the service, which is being offered at no additional charge.

You just know Blockbuster's techies are scrambling to catch up, but this is only the most recent salvo in the struggle to provide disposable digital entertainment. If I can buy a movie for $1.99 through iTunes, why would I want to view it on my laptop? Because I don't want to keep 500 terrabytes of movies on my hard drive. Netflix is still the best way to see a large quantity of movies without worrying about late fees or where to store the DVD case. Now, because you can download a movie to your laptop, it doesn't even matter where you are.

One day, hopefully, consumers will be able to buy a "right" to view a particular movie at any time, and then downloading movies whenever you want to see them will at last become the new business model for digital entertainment distribution. This will cut out the annoying format upgrades we seem to go through about every 10 years (VHS to DVD to Hi-Def to Blu Ray to WTF!!!), but which means less money for DVD manufacturers and duplicators. All I can say to those poor storefront souls is... this is the world we live in now, people. Adapt.

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