Entries Tagged as 'Movies'

What Netflix Needs To Do To Progress Further

Image representing Netflix as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

I have both supported, and spoke highly of Netflix.  I’ve also ripped them to shreds when I found their business decisions to be absolutely horrible, and pulled my money as an investor when it started to do things that was not along this side of visionary.  So with the latest announcement of canning the split business scenario, I thought… maybe they’re finally understanding again.  Regardless, Reed Hastings is on the right track although his means to the end was not exactly the best of methods.   So this is what I propose that he starts doing if he’s indeed still pushing for settling on Netflix being a streaming business.

  1. Re-position internal organizations
    Internally, you’ll start splitting your company into two divisions.  One is DVD, one is streaming.  Both would have online teams that work together, but ultimately your sales, metrics, and growth will be separated out.   Timeline? 1-2 years.  I have yet to participate in a major company-wide re-organization that has never taken at least 12-18 months.
  2. Customer service needs to get back on par
    Netflix as a company took their reputation and basically threw it out the window.  That’s a lot of reputation when you consider that it was chucked in three months and the company has been around since 1997.   Get back to doing what you were doing best, which was handling customer service well and providing for those that bring you revenue.   Don’t forget that while people are just means to end, your company is also in the service business.  So service.
  3. Transparency
    I am still amazed that there are people out there that don’t understand that the best online businesses are the ones that have such deep linked inner-workings that have absolutely no ties to what the customer interacts with and how it’s done.  Amazon is a great example of this.  From a consumer standpoint, their website is a shopping area and 2-days later, a product arrives.  But the amount of logistics that went into making all of that happen behind the scenes?  Vast.  AND really none of the consumer’s business.  The fact is that all of this and expansions is made possible because of transparency.  With the Qwikster model, there was absolutely no transparency, and you took a brand and threw it out the window.  Once a business operates in a transparent function, it makes changing the consumer end very simple.  You could sell the online division, or dvd rental without batting an eye since the buyers can see that it can both operate seamlessly or by itself.  That makes your company all the more attractive.
  4. Improve Online UX
    So far, Netflix keeps changing up their UX, but their applications lag behind sometimes and they don’t really improve.  For example, they took away the DVD queues on the iPad app, but that’s something that I want to have access to when I use your “services”.  Which is what I pay for.   I don’t just pay for half of it so don’t just show me half.   That sort of interfacing is an important aspect of both how the consumer feels about your services and how easy it is to work.
  5. Improve streaming
    With more and more content, the price increase obviously is going back into the system. But, I have still yet to see a way to choose different language tracks in foreign films.  I also have yet to see DVD previews and all sorts of other things that could be on a streaming service.  This needs to improve if you wish people to take your streaming business model seriously.
  6. Quit thinking your customers are complete idiots
    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the last three months should be a complete eye-opener.  You treated your customers as complete dolts, and then expected them to understand the business and why it was needed.  Then you followed up the bad scenario with another completely terrible scenario.  What may be a good business decision still has to be sold to the shareholders just like any other political message.  Note that the best politicians are great salesmen.   That’s because they can sell you a dream that in reality is a piece of rock.  In the same manner, you need to sell your business models instead of just throwing it out and letting the pieces land where they may.
Customers of services and products do their talking with their feet.  And at the end of the day, especially in bad economics, realize that your product or service is an entertainment expense, not a necessity.   This in itself is a consideration of how you set up and execute the business.   When you’re finished with understanding that (of which I’m not sure what happened in the last three months that you forgot when you remembered the last decade), you’ll be able to continue down the same road that you’ve been trying to go down.  Only then, will you have all the pieces in place to pull off what you were trying to accomplish here in 2011.
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Open Letter to Netflix: Why I Sold Netflix and Support Them No Longer As a Shareholder

Image representing Netflix as depicted in Crun... So as of opening bell, I’ll probably no longer be a shareholder of Netflix.   It’s been a good run, but in my opinion, Reed Hastings has finally gone off the deep end when it comes to leading his company.  It’s one thing to make one mistake.  But to follow it up with an entirely different one is complete corporate suicide.

Let’s first preface this with the fact that I’ve been supporting the business since June of 2003. Yes, I have had my hands in this awesome business due to the fact that they just knew what the hell the customer wanted and provided it. And it rocked. Asian films, anime, you name it, they had it. And their customer service was completely and utterly awesome. The first time they had credited me for something that I didn’t even expect to happen. And this continued on for years whenever THEY made a mistake. This is how you run a company.

Then the price hike came. There have been others, but older customers always got grandfathered in under their old plan. Not with this hike though. No, this one had no explanation, no reasoning, just… hey, we’re going to up the price because we feel that streaming is just as good as DVD distribution. I’ll say that using their streaming, it’s as good as 2003 Netflix but not as good as current, especially the new releases. Regardless, the price was the same for streaming as it was for DVDs. Big mistake number one.

So Sunday night, Reed Hastings committed big mistake number two. He wrote all of this apologetic stuff that no one really cares about since their stock price tumbled due to subscriber loss and he stopped short of making amends for the price hike. Everything he said was true, as far as the reasoning for the price hikes, but he didn’t do what every other customer service driven company does. He didn’t appease the customers. Instead, he split the company in two so that Qwikster will be the DVD distribution (owned by Netflix still) and Netflix will concentrate on streaming only.

The key screw up here? CUSTOMER usability. If you’re getting into a streaming only business, that’s fine. But one key thing about user experience in the Internet world is interoperability behind the scenes. Believe me, I deal with it every day with my own accounting software company. The key to everything is always the fact that the customer should NEVER… EVER… have to sign into multiple items, or have to do a two stop shop, just because you think it’s a brilliant move. Everything should be integrated on the forefront and the operations behind the scenes are split into two entities. I don’t care how you do it, via API, or not, but two different billings and sites will kill you if people looked to your integrated area for use before. Operationally, I can understand the split. But what has been reported is that it’s going to be two different sites.

I’m sorry, buddy, but that was the last straw. Currently I’m looking to see if that invested money can be put to good use in Coinstar owned Redbox. Maybe some other internet IPO will come along and we’ll take a look at that. But as a long time customer, and supporter, the moves being made are going to placate your company for months to come. You said that you “slid into arrogance based upon past success” but finally saw the light. I hate to break it to you but the rest of your email reminded me of my mother when I was a child whom told me what I wanted to hear and said that I had a choice in the matter, but at the very end, threw in an argument that completely contradicted the entire hour of time she had spent. So, you’re not really thinking about us, are you? You’re thinking about how you can get us, and Wall Street off your back about all of this. And I’m telling you that customer service and Wall Street go hand in hand. Oh well, maybe you’ll see the light. Maybe you’ll understand finally that there were a number of things at play that propelled Netflix into stardom and kept it there. It wasn’t the streaming idea, nor DVD releases. It was the fact that you guys did it seamlessly and had awesome service. Put those two things in any business, and they’ll still be rock solid. Anyhow, if you ever want to change things up, just look me up.

iTunes Saturday

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Movie Review: L – Change the World

L-changetheworld If you’re a fan of Death Note as I am, then you’ll know that recently there was a third movie speaking towards L’s short life after Kira. And that would be the movie, L – Change the World.

I have to say that it was very fortunate that I happened to be in San Francisco, the day that they were going to premier the DVD screening at New People World. I picked up a copy of the movie and got a free screener pass along with a “L” button. Depending on what you’re looking for, you might want the US version of this DVD set. Either way, I have to say that it was actually pretty good.

I happen to like the Death Note writing a bit better, so the plot of the spin-off was a little more hokey. But overall, it does fill in some of the blanks that the anime itself doesn’t on why the character L actually had successors and where they came from. In fact, there was definitely a nice touch where it overlaps at the beginning with the timeline of the Kira case, in which if you’ve never seen the previous movies, I would definitely recommend watching them in order, watching the anime, or reading the manga before watching this film. It would explain a lot of things such as the naming of Near.

Overall, this movie was anti-climatic when it comes to the end, and I wasn’t surprised but sort of disappointed that you didn’t get to follow L to the very end. It’s kind of like one of those westerns where the hero rides into the sunset and leaves the entire thing open and you’re going… wait a second… where’s the rest of it?

I’m glad to own the series although I can’t say whether or not the screening would have been better since I didn’t have a chance to go even though I had the tickets. One last thing. If you have an issue with seeing people spit, or pus or something like that, I would probably avoid this movie. It’s not often, but seeing that the film plot is about a virus weapon that is a hundred times the potential of Ebola, it’s not exactly void of death throes. Wait a second… have I wandered upon the next series? Death Note – Death Throes? One could only imagine…

Free Movie Brought To You By Roku

Roku.com-The Little Black Box That Streams Thousands of Films! Roku is now bringing you five dollars in credit if you register your Roku box within the month of July and spend the credit before September 30. I personally think that’s pretty neat, although my issue with my Roku box isn’t so much of the content as much as the interface could use a little work. The Amazon interface is a bit better than Netflix, since I’d love to be able to browse, add, and delete to my queue.

Outside of that, this promotion is brilliant since it gives people a chance to try out the $99 box and get a little something extra. They would actually go a bit further if they actually provided this to those early adopters too, as a gift. Just a thought.

In any case, the below is the email that was sent out to those on the mailing list and the Facebook page:

Wanted to let everyone know about an exciting promotion we’re running in the month of July with our partner, Amazon Video On Demand. July is free movie month!

Roku is pleased to bring you a great deal: a $5 credit towards any purchase or rental on Amazon Video On Demand.

In order to receive your credit, you must register your Roku player on Amazon during the month of July. You’ll have until September 30 to use the credit before it expires.

Don’t have a Roku player yet? No worries! If you buy one now, you’ll receive it in July, just in time to get your free movie rental from Amazon Video On Demand on behalf of Roku.

If you already have your Roku player or expect to receive it soon simply register it now with Amazon Video On Demand and you’ll receive a $5 credit to watch anything you want—from a new release movie to an episode of your favorite TV show.

In order to receive your credit, you must register your Roku player to Amazon during the month of July. You’ll have until September 30 to use it before it expires.

How to register your Roku player

Visit the Amazon Video On Demand page (URL below) to register your Roku player. Follow the simple four-step process using the screenshots they’ve provided.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/video/ontv/rokusteps/ref=atv_roku_register

Register your Roku player today!

Amazon Video On Demand offers more than 40,000 Hollywood hits, classic movies and your favorite TV shows—including hundreds in HD—that you can start watching instantly on your Roku player on any TV.

Enjoy!

Your friends at Roku

A bit of wishful thinking but I’m just waiting for Roku to support Hulu and we’ll be all set.

Movie Review: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

I finally had the chance to watch this movie off of Netflixicon streaming in HD, and I have to say…

What the heck was I thinking in waiting so long??

This movie is absolutely fantastic and one of those that really don’t give away the ending until probably closer to the end. Which I appreciate since there are too many predictable movies out there. Jim Carrey plays Joel, whom is having his memory erased because his girlfriend had her memory erased of him. While he’s in the middle of this process, he realizes that he doesn’t want to lose her and tries frantically to save any memory of her.

What was absolutely great with this movie, and I made the connection here with Adam Sandler in Reign Over Me, is that it really seems that the comedic actors have a lot of depth when it comes to acting abilities. Even Jamie Fox, whom has had a multitude of serious roles has shown that while they all started in comedy, they can play serious parts extremely well and that there is more to it than one-sided acting.

The movie itself was fantastic and I urge anyone that likes drama to watch it, especially if they have Roku box. If you don’t have one, I would seriously advise you to look into getting one since it increases your Netflix account without any further cost outside the initial $99USD. In any case? Watch the movie. Yar.

Netflix Customer Service Wows Me Again


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What can I say. Netflixicon continues to wow me with their automated customer service. Now, granted, this could be because I’ve been with them since … well, forever. In any case, it never ceases to amaze me that they just send me extra movies, or gifts (in the form of refunds) because of something that they mishandled or just think that it’s taking too long for the turn-around. In fact, I think this is the first time that their customer service has sent me an extra DVD due to the fact that it would take a bit for it to get here.

Don’t ask me why, but it makes me happy to support a company that actually thinks about the fact that I’m not made of money, and there are little things you can do that can make a person happy with your service. This is one of them. Definitely will have to take a page from their customer service book and apply it in my own accounting software business.

Movie Review: The Day The Earth Stood Still

Having never seen the original, I have to say that I can’t make the comparison between the original and this version. So it’s actually lost on me when critics say that the original was better.

But I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. The plot basically is about how the human race is destroying Earth and aliens come to save Earth because it’s on the brink of destruction. But only on the brink of destruction can we save ourselves and evolve further to and not be so self-absorbed. Interestingly enough, this plot was made way before there was any real push for environmentalism, so I’m not certain how much it follows the original. If it does, then it was definitely before its time.

All of the acting is pretty well done and I have to admit that the one that struck me was actually Jaden Smith. He was such a rebellious step-son in the movie, that you feel like he needed some severe discipline every time he opened his mouth. Which really drives home that there’s definitely acting in his blood considering his parents. A definite upcoming star.

If you’ve never seen the original or am looking for a pretty decent science fiction film, give The Day the Earth Stood Still a try. If you’re not a Reeves fan though, it will definitely strike you as one of those same-ole-face that he does in many of his more despondent characters.

Movie Review: Exiled

Booted up my Roku and streamed Exiled in HD last night. And I have to say that it was not only a wonderful experience, but the film itself was also fantastic.

What was wonderful about this movie is that while it was your typical asian Triad/gangster movie, the gun battles were very subtle in the fact that there was not a lot of waving around and it was very smooth. There was a lot more focus on the actors faces and expressions which made it more dramatic and focusing the action as more of a integral secondary characterization. The entirety of the movie wasn’t difficult to predict if you’ve watched enough of the big star Triad films with names such as Simon Yam and Anthony Wong.

The movie’s actual story basically focused on a group of five individuals that grew up together in a gang, and how they interacted after two of them decided to betray the gang and their relationship with one another. It actually was refreshing also to see a foreign film in Cantonese that was subtitled and streaming directly in HD. THis needs to be provided more often by the service providers and allow for original language penetration. Just a personal pet peeve but I’m not super fond of dubbed voicing since it’s a distraction and sometimes the dubbed voice is worse than the original and just reading subtitles.

It’s also interesting to note that there is one scene that there is an actual depiction of a Triad agreement handshake. Due to this fact alone, this film was rated Category III in Hong Kong, which is the equivalent of NC17 in the States because no children under the age of 18 are allowed to watch the film for Category III ratings. This film however was rated R in the States.

I have to say that this film was done very well from script to acting to directing. I definitely would recommend anyone that has a Roku player to add it to their queue, and if not, to rent or buy it. If you love mafia and Asian gangster type films, you’ll love Exiled.

Movie Review: Transporter 3

Jason, Jason. I have to say that Jason Statham is typecast really well into an action role. I mean, if you look at all of his films from the Transporter series to War, the guy is a regular bad ass. With his typical sculpted muscles that make women tear up and his rough British voice really reminds me of the young Bruce Willis in Die Hard without quite the salary. Regardless, Statham does a wonderful job with this series.

I have to say that while I love the great vehicles (Audi’s A8), and the car chases are spectacular, after a while the action is repetitive of the previous movies. Not that I didn’t mind it, but the only thing different in this one was a rare BMX scene that I wasn’t sure if Jason actually did the stunts for. The gal in the film itself was a bit more difficult to understand and while she was a pretty long legged redhead, it still just didn’t quite hold your attention. At the end, I kept wondering if she was underaged in the movie due to a photograph that was shown of her later on and if they were depicting her in college, why they kept showing the drugs and drinking which is really a bad influence even though that’s what happens in places like Ibiza (which apparently where this girl was before she got abducted).

If you like Statham, and you’re looking for a quick action flick, I would definitely recommend Transporter 3. But as with most action flicks, you have to suspend disbelief due to the sensationalism of transporters.