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Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  November 12, 2007 — Leave a comment

A periodic roundup of relevant news… from our other blogs:

blockbuster-small1.jpgJust three months ago, I discussed why Netflix had already won the DVD Rental War against Blockbuster. It now seems that the company’s struggles have really taken hold and mainstream media agrees that it’s time to say goodbye to Blockbuster.

In their third-quarter results, Blockbuster reported a decline in revenue of over 5% and a net loss of $35 million. They’ve also closed over 500 stores in the past year and are now watching their stock price falter to $4.81 at Friday’s close.

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For more gruesome Blockbuster analysis, continue reading at Brent Evans Geek Tonic.

What the heck are you thinking, Netflix? I understand and support your goal to minimize disc theft, but you really need to do some more testing in the labs before unleashing this half-baked sticker scheme on your customers. Whatever human or machine applied the anti-theft measure didn’t properly center it on the bottom of the disc, leading my laptop DVD drive to noisily thrash around without video playback. Fortunately, with the help of a ragged fingernail and a Marriott washcloth I removed both the sticker and glue goop to watch Dexter. Good thing too, because I know how Dexter handles evildoers.

Several months ago Netflix brought on Anthony Wood (founder of ReplayTV) to “deliver movies directly to subscribers’ televisions via the Internetâ€?- substantiating years of set-top box rumors and speculation. It now appears they’re closer to making it a reality given a recent Netflix trademark update filing:

Computer hardware, set top boxes and computer software, namely audio and video receivers and transmitters and computer software programs enabling receipt, download, playing, viewing, and rental of audio and video programming through the use of internet connections to computer hardware and receiver and transmitter apparatuses that connect to a television set or monitor.

If you’re taking requests, Netflix, I’d like to suggest maintaining the current online viewing fee structure (with super-size upsell options) and introducing hardware @ $199 with $50 price reductions every six months to hit the 99 dollar magic number within a year. Can you succeed where others (Akimbo, Moviebeam) have failed?

The Gamefly Update: Improved

Dave Zatz —  September 18, 2007 — 4 Comments

Back in July, Gamefly reached out to me after hearing of my first (subpar) stint as a customer. They offered me 90 days on the house (2 games out) to test their supposedly improved service. Having received about a dozen Xbox and PSP games the last two months, I can report that delivery times have improved over my first go around. Perhaps it’s the new (closer) distribution center on the east coast (Pittsburgh), perhaps they have a better system for processing games – maybe a bit of both. Regardless, the average turnaround on game rentals has been about 7 days versus the previous 10-14. And last week we had a breakthrough… I returned two games on Monday and received two new games the very same week, on Friday. Surprisingly, they beat out the two Netflix discs I also shipped out that Monday – which still haven’t been received. (Very odd. Makes me wonder if the mail person has an ebay side business.)

So what will I do once my 90 days are up? I’m continuing on at the two game out $22.95/mo plan. The trick to finding satisfaction with Gamefly is managing expectations. I know it’ll take about a week door to door to receive a new game, so I won’t ship both games back at the same time. And while the shipping times are better, they may still be too slow to bother with Gamefly’s one game out plan ($15.95/mo). Though Gamefly tells me a new distribution plant in Tampa will come online later this year, with more in the works.