Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Sad to say, I resemble that cartoon. This year was my 35th college reunion and next year will be my 40th high school reunion. The only point of poor correspondence is that I won't reach my 60s until two years after that.
I find it amusing to look back. When I was a youngster, the very idea of making it past age thirty was foreign. Now it seems like a brief flash. It has been longer than that since I went to high school.
Back in those days of yore, vinyl records were king and eight track tapes were just starting to fade into history. I remember that the first stereo I traipsed off to college with had a record player and an eight track player and an AM/FM radio. The ultimate in media sophistication!
While I was in college, the new-fangled tape cartridge came out and began battling reel-to-reel tape decks (and quickly dominating the automobile market and the also new-fangled Sony Walkman was the iPod of the day). And today I look around and find all of those technologies eclipsed. Even CD-ROMs are dying now in the face of online streaming and mp3 players like the iPod.
And speaking of online streaming, I was asked by Foursons what I thought of the new NetFlix pricing plan where the unlimited streaming is $7.99 a month and the one-at-a-time mail order DVD is $7.99 a month. This is as opposed to the combination being $9.99 a month under the old plan.
If it was just me, it would have little to no impact. I'd just move to streaming only and continue on my merry way. But (there is always one of those), L uses the mail order one-at-a-time DVDs for her watching pleasure. It comes down to the fact that we use the same entertainment sources in different ways. I stream movies as a background amusement while working, etc. L consciously sets aside time to watch a movie as an event, completely engrossed in watching. So when I am forced to modify our plan come September, I suspect it will be to go with the unlimited streaming + one-at-a-time DVDs.
The more interesting point here is how NetFlix is working to push people to move to a new technological base. A while ago, the mail order option was the right way to compete (and drive to extinction) with the movie rental stores that started in the days of VCR tapes. Now that almost no movie rental shops exist, NetFlix wants to move its customer base to streaming. That eliminates the hassles of physical inventory and shipping and simplifies their business model. But there are still some who want the physical media and the sometimes newer releases only available there. So NetFlix has very wisely left in place a plan for them where they can pay a higher price per movie and help finance the bandwidth expansion NetFlix needs. A win-win from their point of view. From my point of view as a technologist, it makes sense. As a consumer, I am a bit PO'ed that they effectively increased my price by 60%. It makes me think of the cable and satellite companies.