Is NetFlix still preparing to fail in the STB market?

Yes, that headline is harsh, but that’s how I feel. Dave Zatz picked up on more info that supports the rumors that NetFlix is still working on a set-top box for movie rentals. This is a long running rumor, which arose after the announced TiVo-Netflix partnership collapsed. TiVo, of course, ended up partnering with Amazon for Unbox and Netflix started streaming video online.

I feel very strongly that, at this point, a one-trick pony is doomed in this market – unless it is very, very inexpensive. Even then consumers have ‘box fatigue’ and are tired of putting Yet Another Box in their entertainment center and finding a place to connect it. Convergence is where it is today – which is why Unbox on TiVo was a great idea – and Netflix on TiVo would be too. This is also why Apple TV has been lackluster at best, and Akimbo and Moviebeam pulled out of the hardware market completely – and why I believe VUDU will fail as well.

We have VOD available through pretty much ever cable and satellite operator now. TiVo has Unbox. Xbox has video downloads – including HD. Sony just announced they’ll be bringing downloads to the PS3. Modern hardware is so powerful that it can perform many functions, and do them all well. There just isn’t a place for a horde of single-purpose boxes today. The comments on the ZNF post seem to agree with my viewpoint as well.

Netflix should partner with someone – or multiple someones – who already have STBs in the market. TiVo has said their partnership with Amazon isn’t exclusive – so they’re a possibility. Microsoft would likely welcome more content in XBox Live for 360 downloads. Netflix could do downloads, or streaming, to a PC and support viewing over a Media Center Extender. Or work with the MCE companies to stream right to the MCE over broadband.

Stop reinventing the wheel. Unless your system requires specialized hardware (like a Slingbox), we don’t need a new box. Something like the SlingCatcher I understand, it is a client for another hardware device and isn’t a one-trick pony.

About MegaZone

MegaZone is the Editor of Gizmo Lovers and the chief contributor. He's been online since 1989 and active in several generations of 'social media' - mailing lists, USENet groups, web forums, and since 2003, blogging.    MegaZone has a presence on several social platforms: Google+ / Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / LiveJournal / Web.    You can also follow Gizmo Lovers on other sites: Blog / Google+ / Facebook / Twitter.
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  • Chris H

    Someone should tell Netflix to take a look at Moviebeam. As near as I can determine, Moviebeam has done poorly — and it’s more or less the same thing: a dedicated box for movie rentals. OK, it doesn’t have the name recognition, and it has a wacky delivery method (over the air, not via Internet/broadband), but fundamentally it’s the same thing. I have a box, because there was a coupon code that made it free. I don’t know anyone else who has one. Best Buy stocked it for a while, but not so much anymore I don’t think.

    If I were Netflix, I’d be talking either to Tivo or to some other partner (cablecos? telcos?) about delivering the rentals to set-top boxes.

  • megazone

    Moviebeam did worse than ‘poorly’ – they pulled out of the market. They failed.

    Akimbo started off as a broadband download service with a dedicated STB. Akimbo is still around – but only as a service for Windows PCs. They gave up om the STB market entirely.

  • Chris H

    Moviebeam hasn’t pulled out — they’re still around, albiet under new management. But your overall point is still correct. And now here’s another one: The box is insanely expensive, too.

    No more boxes!

  • Ben Drawbaugh

    Def agree, sure Apple never really delivered the content, but at least there box is an extension of the very popular iPod and does support many different kinds of content.

    I do think it would be cool to bring the Netflix online movie model to a box, but agree it doesn’t make sense to have yet another box.

  • Michael T

    Since the SlingCatcher will have an optional USB hard drive content storage system, NetFlix should jump at the chance to deliver content there. I’m sure they’ve thought of it. SlingMedia has their own plans to promote 3 party content as well. It will be a versatile piece of gear but with the recent announcement of EchoStar purchasing SlingMedia for $380 Million, I would expect to see the convergence/ integration of SlingMedia’s technology into future Satellite STB’s

  • Joe J

    I don’t want to see ANOTHER box sitting on top of my tivo, I want a box INSTEAD of my tivo. I hope netflix makes a tivo killer. Tivo has gotten more and more evil over the years, and continues to make a product that could be so much better. Netflix on the other hand has really really taken care of their grandfathered clients, they have an 800 number with real people. I wish netflix all the success, and I hope tivo dies. I could have loved Tivo this much, but they have disappointed me over the last 5 years.

    Long live Netflix!