I think Netflix missed the boat, bigtime. They could have been the place on the net to learn about and watch and share movie experiences. I think they could have started a match.com type service. If you’re in a strange city and would like to go to the movies with someone with similar tastes, just click a few buttons. They were gathering all this information about people’s movie preferences. But they were reluctant to build systems around it. And reluctant to open it up to app developers. I think we all missed out on something, because movies at least to some of us are such an important form of personal expression.
I’m not exactly sure what Netflix should have done differently, but this resonated with me. When I joined the service in 2001, I rated movies and put every one that I wanted to watch in their queue. I saw it as an online database of my own movie information. That broke down some years later when I hit the maximum queue size and started augmenting it with a text file. Even with Ajax, managing the queue always felt cumbersome. And they never really built out the service in the way that I predicted. Why was there nowhere to add notes, such as why I had added a particular movie or what I thought of it? Why did their database and summaries remain so poor?
A few weeks ago, I deleted my entire Netflix queue except for the next few discs that I want to receive. I now manage the queue in a single text file. The new commands in BBEdit 10.5 make reordering easy. It syncs to my iPhone via Dropbox and WriteUp.
I still like Netflix the DVD-mailing service, though. The selection is top notch. The price, though higher than before, is still reasonable. With Blu-ray, the video quality is better than iTunes, except for some TV shows where Apple offers HD quality and only a DVD exists. You get commentary and other special features. You can keep the movie longer than 24 hours.