Netflix Splitting the Business

I have to admit, I was a bit sur­prised to read Neflix split­ting off their DVD mail busi­ness into a new com­pa­ny. Not sur­prised, though, to see that Net­flix has essen­tial­ly gone com­plete­ly to stream­ing, as I men­tioned that ear­li­er this year. I’m pret­ty sure that’s been obvi­ous for years now.

I was con­fused about the name Qwik­ster, though. Not that Reed Hast­ings reads my tweets, but was Mail­flix (or DVD­flix, Dis­cflix, etc.) already tak­en? Why not go with the obvi­ous and descrip­tive instead of a name that just implies some­thing is going to be quick? Net­flix mail­ings are fast—quick, even—but that name just seems like unnec­es­sary non­sense1.

Despite all of the out­rage over the price hikes and con­fu­sion (on the part of some, any­way; most like­ly just the press) over stream­ing ser­vices vs. discs, one has to appre­ci­ate Reed Hast­ing’s clar­i­ty of approach here. They are being very clear as to where they think the future lies. Of course, they must now nav­i­gate the fig­u­ra­tive mine­field of licens­ing to get con­tent into stream­ing. No one (not even Apple or Ama­zon, by my obser­va­tion) has done as good a job at this so far as Net­flix. How­ev­er, with the recent Starz announce­ment2, this does look like a mas­sive moun­tain to climb. The suc­cess of Qwik­ster will depend less on licens­ing (who cares about the one-month peri­od between DVD release and Net­flix avail­abil­i­ty?) and more on adding val­ue to the aging mail ser­vice.

One such val­ue of addi­tion­al inter­est, Qwik­ster will be adding game discs to their mail order ser­vice. Good­bye, Game­fly? We actu­al­ly sus­pend­ed our Game­fly account near­ly three years ago. Great ser­vice, real­ly, but we just nev­er had the time to play the games. I’m not sure that we have loads more time now, but hav­ing the option to occa­sion­al­ly get games (for an addi­tion­al fee, I sus­pect) on an exist­ing account has more appeal than thaw­ing out an account else­where.

Update: Great post by Dan From­mer with some great points to remem­ber, par­tic­u­lar­ly as to why avoid­ing DVD or Mail in the name Qwik­ster may have been a good idea for a pos­si­bly shift­ing busi­ness. (via Dar­ing Fire­ball)

  1. Then again, their hasti­ly put togeth­er page hold­er looks like non­sense. Who designed that table? M.C. Esch­er? []
  2. Which appar­ent­ly had every­thing to do with Starz see­ing the busi­ness in terms of out­dat­ed cable mod­el and Net­flix pre­fer­ring the sim­plic­i­ty of their busi­ness. []

Early 3D Rendered Animation

Great post, video, and com­ment dis­cus­sion regard­ing Ed Cat­mul­l’s grad­u­ate research film which involves one of the ear­li­est (if not the first) 3D ren­dered com­put­er ani­ma­tion. Cat­mull would go on to form Pixar in the fol­low­ing decade. Many of the con­cepts and tech­nolo­gies used in this short film are used today in infra­struc­ture to dig­i­tize road­ways, build­ings, bridges, etc. into point clouds. (via Kot­tke)