Todd Yellin, Netflix's VP of Product Management, posted an apology on the Netflix blog for how they handled the removal of the Friends feature, and he explains that they're permanently removing it because only 2% of customers used the feature:
"Todd Yellin here, VP of Product Management. We fumbled the ball this week. In making some changes to the Movie Display Page we didn’t fully communicate how they impact users of the Friends feature, and we owe you that.
Friends is a feature on the Netflix Web site that’s been used by less than two percent of all subscribers since we added the feature in 2004. As a comparison, roughly 50 percent of Netflix members are now instantly watching movies and TV episodes on computers and televisions via game consoles, Blu-ray disc players and other devices that have been on the market since 2008.
No company has unlimited resources and we decided to move engineering development time and resources from a little used feature to support and maintain the things that benefit all Netflix members as the service evolves – more devices for streaming and better encoding, for example.
Unfortunately for Friends users, this means the phasing out of the Friends feature, which will continue over the coming months.
We’ve read every blog post, Tweet, news article and call log to Customer Service by those of you who are upset about this decision. To you, we apologize for not being more upfront earlier. We appreciate your passion and we understand your disappointment and frustration. Our decision is meant to benefit all Netflix members by allowing everyone to enjoy more movies and more TV episodes on more devices while still receiving the unbeatable convenience, selection and value that are the hallmarks of the Netflix service.
Bill writes, "I subscribed to get Blue Ray disks thinking I may get more new releases that way. I think you should have an option that says ship whatever is available Blue Ray or DVD. Now you can only pick either DVD or Blue Ray. Why not be able to ship whichever one is available. I really don’t care which I get. What is more important to me is getting the next DVD I have in my queue."
What do you think? Should Netflix offer the ability to ship the first available format?
This must be Comcast's worst nightmare: Google TV. The NY Times reports that Google is working on a set-top box:
The Google TV software will present users with a new interface for TVs that lets them perform Internet functions like search while also pulling down Web programming like YouTube videos or TV shows from Hulu.com. The technology will also allow downloadable Web applications, like games and social networks, to run on the devices.
Despite a rough start, the Xbox Live Gold free month promotion that's currently running on the Netflix envelopes is now working. You're limited to one free month and the offer expires on April 15th, 2010.
Netflix CFO Barry McCarthy has joined the board of directors at Chegg, the online texbook rental company.
"As a key player in the online textbook rental market, Chegg has a tremendous opportunity to expand and lead the category," said McCarthy. "I look forward to working with the members of Chegg's Board to help execute the strategic plan for growth."
Netflix's Michael Hart announced the OData Catalog API preview -- an early look at a new programming interface to more than 100,000 movies and actors. What's exciting is that Netflix is offering this API without OAuth authentication or rate limits, so developers will be easily able to enhance existing applications or create new applications that use the Netflix movie database.
I'm happy to announce the availability of the Netflix OData Catalog API Preview. OData is an open protocol used to describe web-based data sources in a consistent way, enabling integration across a broad range of clients, servers, services, and tools. For example, at today's Microsoft MIX developer conference, they demonstrated using the Catalog within Visual Studio 2010. OData enabled:
A schema view of the catalog illustrating the relationships between data entities.
A SQL-like language for creating rich queries against the catalog, and including only the data items you want in the results.
Intellisense IDE support, providing just-in-time help for building queries dynamically within the Visual Studio editor.
An example of what can be done with the OData Catalog: What if you don't want to run your own database, but really need to find "movies available for instant watching released in the last two weeks in the anime genre that have greater than a 3 star average rating?"
If you're wondering who Netflix uses to stream movies to your house, Akamai issued a press release to announce that they have been selected by Netflix as the primary content delivery network.
Akamai offers a service layer to bring content in HD-quality to the edge of the Internet, closest to end users. By distributing content closer to the edge, with servers less than 100 miles from all end users, Akamai's service allows for the fastest, most reliable delivery path from the server to the user. This delivery approach improves the performance and reliability of HD files, one of the essential requirements for instant download and delivery of movies, which results in an uninterrupted, smooth playback viewing experience.
Blockbuster filed a 10-K today that warns of a possibly bankruptcy filing (it mentions the word Bankruptcy 17 times). From the filing:
Our ability to obtain future financing or to sell assets could be adversely affected because a very large majority of our assets have been secured as collateral for the benefit of the holders of the senior secured notes. In addition, our financial results, our substantial indebtedness, our credit ratings and the declining in-store rental industry in which we operate could adversely affect the availability and terms of our financing. Further, uncertainty surrounding our ability to finance our obligations could result in unfavorable terms from our trade creditors. In addition, there are other situations where our debt may be accelerated and we may be unable to repay such debt. Any of these scenarios could adversely impact our liquidity and results of operations or force us to seek further restructuring of our indebtedness or file for protection under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.
Thanks to Jeff for counting and Gowan for sending this in.