Netflix’s Movie Streaming

The New York Times writes about Netflix’s new service:

Netflix has rewritten the rules this time, of the online movie-rental game. The company has done away with expiration dates, copy protection and multi-megabyte downloads. Thats because you dont actually download any of Netflixs movies; instead, they stream in real time from the Internet to your computer. (This advantage comes with a key disadvantage: you must be connected to the Internet. Wireless hot spots at airports and hotels are fair game, but movies cant be carried around on a laptop.)

Netflix has also done away with per-movie fees in fact, there are no additional fees for watching movies online at all. Instead, the Netflix service is free if youre already a Netflix DVD-by-mail subscriber. When you log in to Netflix.com, you see a new tab called Watch Now. It opens what looks like a duplicate set of the companys usual excellent movie-finding and movie-recommending tools, except that you now see two buttons beneath each movies icon: Rent and Play.

Internet Success

Nisan Gabbay writes: “The near overnight success of companies such as YouTube, Facebook, Flickr and Digg has motivated a slew of us into believing that we too can create the next big thing on the Internet. But does your idea truly have the potential to attract millions of monthly unique visitors in less than two years time? To create a high traffic consumer Internet service in under two years, the company must exhibit one of two characteristics. It must either be a true viral marketing candidate (likely a communication service at its core) or it must be a strong candidate for leveraging natural search traffic.”

Google Mobile

Greg Clayman speculates about what Google may do next in the mobile space:

picture a device that knows where you are, knows what you want, is seamlessly integrated with your newsreader, your email, your calendar, and your documents. Its searches are contextually relevant and it browses faster than other devices as top sites are optimized and cached away somewhere in the Googlecloud. The pieces all exist today and are deployed in one way or another. This new project with Orange looks to me like a way to get them all together and deeply integrate them with the handset.

By why stop at there? Remember when Google CEO Eric Schmidt said, your mobile phone should be free, at the Web 2.0 conference last month? And recall that Google is actively trying to build free municipal WiFi networks? Now imagine the device described above isnt a phone provided by a carrier at all but a Sidekick-like mobile media WiFi device: ad-supported, location aware, chock full of apps, and free to use. I think its a comin. What do you think?

TECH TALK: When Bad Things Happen: Connection Cut

Thursdays event took me down memory lane. In June 1995, a few months after I had launched IndiaWorld, our Internet connection was cut-off by NCST. We were told then that we were using it for commercial purposes. It did not matter that many others were doing so they were too powerful to touch! All of a sudden, the cost and complexity for uploading content (and software) to the servers in the US rose exponentially. What used to be a 10-minute automated process costing tens of rupees a day became a multi-hour, manual process (involving dialing international to an ISP in the US) costing hundreds of rupees a day.

But we did not give up. The termination only made our resolve stronger. We were determined to ensure that services would continue uninterrupted it whatever the other pains. This continued for a few months till commercial Internet services were officially launched in India in August 1995. No prizes for guessing who got one of the first Internet connections!

At that time, I tried talking to various people who had the Authority to do something. I spoke with Nasscom (we were a member). No assistance. We were obviously too small and irrelevant to matter. I spoke to tried to speak to one of the Government secretaries responsible for technology, only to be told that he was busy watching television. I wrote to various people who I felt could help. Not one responded. It was then that I learnt my first lesson: Entrepreneurs have to fight their battles on their own. When you are small, you dont matter contrary to all the spiel that one may hear. That incident has also given me a healthy disrespect for people in Power and Authority and a firm belief that we have to rely on ourselves to fight, and hopefully, win.

It is these periods that test ones character. It is easy to give up or give in. Or use alternate unclean means to achieve ones ends. It is tempting to sell ones soul. But if one can stick it out, one emerges stronger from these storms. And that is the second lesson of Bad Things: There is an End. No bad situation lasts forever. One has to wade through troubled waters to get to the other wide. Look at it as a sort of Agni-Parkisha there is only a finite amount of Agni!

When one is going through the Bad Thing, it is very hard to think straight or believe that it will be over soon. The days seem long and never-ending. But one has to maintain calm and composure. As the ships captain, the entrepreneur cannot give up hope. Optimism is the most important quality that needs to be exuded during these difficult times especially for everyone around.

Tomorrow: Vanishing Website

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