Feeds

NetFlix sics troops on Apple TV

Trumpets set-top box. Plans 100 more

Build a business case: developing custom apps

NetFlix is going toe-to-toe with Apple TV. And then some.

This morning, the get-your-movie-rentals-through-the-mail pioneer announced it will soon team with LG Electronics to offer a brand new set-top box that streams movies straight to your television. But that's just a start. In a conversation with Hacking Netflix.com, CEO Reed Hasting said the company plans to launch a entire army of NetFlix-happy hardware devices.

"Our model is that we don't want one Netflix-branded box, we want to see 100 Netflix-capable boxes," Hasting told the NetFlix news and info blog. "We want to be embedded in high-def DVD players, Internet games, dedicated set-top boxes, a wide range of options."

In this way, NetFlix hopes to challenge not only Apple, but all those other net-centric companies struggling to make a buck from straight-to-TV movie deliveries, including Amazon, which offers its Unbox service to TiVO users, and Microsoft, which is shoving video onto the XBox 360 via something called Windows Live Video.

NetFlix calls itself "the world's largest online rental service." Delivering DVD rentals through the post since 1998, the company now serves over 7 million subscribers. And for nearly a year, it's offered a "Watch Instantly" option that allows all 7 million to stream flicks straight onto their desktop PCs and laptops.

But Netflix's partnership with LG marks the first time the company has extended the Watch Instantly model directly to TVs. The LG set-top box will debut in the "second half" of this year, likely linking customers to several thousand movies and television shows. Though NetFlix now offers over 90,000 DVDs for rental through the mail, it serves up around 6,000 via Watch Instantly.

What exactly will this LG set-top box be capable of? How much will it cost to stream videos? NetFlix isn't saying. It wouldn't even respond to our request for an interview.

According to NetFlix, the current Watch Instantly service is "free." But this simply means that you needn't pay anymore than you're already paying to receive rentals through the mail. Your use of Watch Instantly is restricted according to the cost of your subscription.

You'd have to say that NetFlix will continue using a subscription model with the LG set-top and any other TV-compatible devices. After all, that's how the company built its rather sizable success. The NetFlix phenomenon didn't take off until the company buried an early pay-per-rental model back in 1999.

Can NetFlix challenge the likes of Apple and Amazon? We should hope so. According a report from MacWorld, Steve Jobs only sold 400,000 Apple TVs between February and early December. That number likely spiked during the holiday season, but the iTunes-centric device hasn't exactly set the world on fire. And it's the most popular of the lot.

A subscription model might set NetFlix apart from the Apple TV. But rumors abound that Jobs and company will soon introduce its own rental and subscription services. NetFlix most important gamble may be the decision to open its service to all sorts of third-party devices. Apple would never do that. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
You didn't get the MeMO? Asus Pad 7 Android tab is ... not bad
Really, er, stands out among cheapie 7-inchers
Apple winks at parents: C'mon, get your kid a tweaked Macbook Pro
Cheapest models given new processors, more RAM
4K video on terrestrial TV? Not if the WRC shares frequencies to mobiles
Have your say with Ofcom now, before Freeview becomes Feeview
Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 Update specs tease details of Nokia's next mobes
New screen sizes, dual SIMs, voice over LTE, and more
YES, iPhones ARE getting slower with each new release of iOS
Old hardware doesn't get any faster with new software
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.