Saturday, October 12, 2013

I was wrong on Netflix

I was wrong on Netflix. A few years ago, I saw their pricing changes (which overpriced DVD rentals) and streaming catalog changes (switching to only buying whatever they could get cheap, very few hit movies in there, and then making a little of their own content) and thought this new strategy of becoming HBO-lite was headed for disaster.

But Netflix has done well. People add them on as an addition to cable and DVDs, not as a replacement, essentially as an HBO-lite. Competitors -- like Amazon, Hulu, and YouTube -- aren't acting as a replacement to Netflix, but, at best, an addition. Redbox is eating away at Netflix's neglected but profitable DVD business, but that hasn't hurt Netflix as much as I thought it would. And no one -- not even Apple, Amazon, Sony, Hulu, Walmart/Vudu, or Google/YouTube -- has been able to offer a full cable TV replacement, a streaming service with a massive, nearly exhaustive catalog of high quality content.

I was wrong about Netflix's new strategy. They've done pretty well with their HBO-lite strategy of being one of several (and the most popular) streaming service for TV-like entertainment. There is still the question of what happens when someone launches something with a much better UX and catalog than Netflix, but that may never happen.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Quick links

What I found interesting lately:
  • Xkcd on the halting problem: "Big picture .... all things must someday die" ([1])

  • "Your fingerprint isn't a secret; you leave it everywhere you touch" ([1])

  • Someone printed circuits (for rapid prototyping of hardware) with silver ink and a normal inkjet printer ([1] [2])

  • Sending sounds to just one person with a touch ([1] [2])

  • It is important not just "for the algorithm to work, but for it to be obvious why it works" ([1] [2])

  • How UPS optimizes route planning for its truck drivers. Not really a travelling salesman problem, it requires a lot of understanding of those humans you're trying to guide around. ([1])

  • Even in emerging markets, people are using tablets as an additional device, not a replacement for smartphone or PC ([1] [2])

  • A promising new competitor to the Xbox, that was caused by the disaster that is Windows 8, that may also force improvements in graphics and sound card support for Linux PCs ([1] [2] [3])

  • Someone spent $4M manipulating prediction markets during the 2012 election ([1] [2])

  • Undersea drones and autonomous fighter jets coming soon to a war near you ([1] [2])

  • Startups are having to seek protection from patent trolls by paying off other patent trolls: "the only way out is to shack up with the strangest of bedfellows" ([1])

  • "An algorithm for generating random numbers, which was adopted in 2006 by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), contains a backdoor for the NSA" ([1] [2])

  • "Intelligence officials said today that no one at the NSA fully understood how its own surveillance system worked" ([1])

  • "The NSA scandal is ... a severe case of auto-immune disease: our defense system is attacking other critical systems of our body." ([1] [2])

  • "The patient had an infection with Saccharomyces cerevisiae .... So when he ate or drank a bunch of starch — a bagel, pasta or even a soda — the yeast fermented the sugars into ethanol, and he would get drunk" ([1])

  • "When it heated a small pinch of dirt scooped up from the ground, the most abundant vapour detected was H2O ... Mars' dusty red covering holds about 2% by weight of water." ([1])

  • Dilbert: "Watch me buy that same item with my phone while you stand there being obsolete" ([1])

  • A cute comparison of San Francisco and Seattle ([1])

  • A beautiful and brilliant SMBC comic on teaching children ([1])