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Netflix's Fascinating Cancellation Questionnaire

I love Netflix. - They have revolutionized the way we think about movies and media - They have created a slew of new company ideas and models: "the Netflix for XYZ" - They have defined streaming content and challenged a traditional, massive industry - They should be credited with making new platforms and devices desirable: iPhone, Android, Google TV, Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo Wii, etc - And they are brilliant marketers with a terrific recurring model ... but after years of being a Netflix subscriber, I recently canceled my account. The reason is very simple: Netflix Instant doesn't have enough depth / inventory. We have watched the handful of documentaries that Netflix has (by far their most impressive category) and I even wrote a semi-popular Quora answer to which Instant movies are best: Exit Through the Gift Shop, Man on Wire, The Modernism of Julius Shulman, The King of Kong, The Universe of Keith Haring, Beer Wars, This Film Is Not Yet Rated, Food, Inc., Bigger, Stronger, Faster.

But the catalog hasn't expanded. Meanwhile, Comcast and Redbox have delivered great products / experiences (Redbox is a short-term business - but as a consumer it is absolutely delightful, cheap and easy). The future is clearly the Netflix Instant / streaming model - but it requires a worthy catalog to justify ~$100-$175 / year.

So I canceled my account.... with the hope that I will return as the catalog grows. Good news: Netflix keeps your queue and preferences in tact so that restarting is easy. Maybe they shouldn't do that - but I appreciate it and it certainly helps conversions for re-started memberships.

The most interesting part of the cancellation was the questionnaire (shown below in full). The attention to competition is fascinating: Comcast, Hulu, HBO, Showtime, bit torrents, piracy, etc are all mentioned. Also noteworthy are the answers to the question "why are you canceling?" One answer is "I have an Internet usage cap (or monthly download limit) and using Netflix puts me close to or over the limit." Unfortunately, over the next few years, I worry this will be an increasingly selected answer...

It is absolutely worth browsing the questions and available answers:

Facebook Featured in Xbox's "It's More Fun Time" Commercials

Microsoft clearly understands that the platform element of Xbox is as much a selling point as its game titles: in just the first week of being live, 10% of Microsoft's Xbox Live subscribers connected their accounts to Facebook. The platform represents new online content (such as Netflix) and the ability to make console gaming more social and viral. Furthermore, the association with big brand names like Facebook, Netflix, and Pandora is an effective sales tool that is appealing to all console owners (whereas games and their audiences vary dramatically: Madden Football vs. Call of Duty vs. Little Big Planet).

facebook xbox live

So in Microsoft's most recent Xbox advertising campaign, the 'platform' is a major theme: "more games, more entertainment and more fun" and "plugin to the endless entertainment of Xbox Live".

650,000,000 Downloads via Playstation Store; Facebook Connect Goes Live

Facebook and Zynga in particular have become the center pieces for micro-transactions, social gaming and in-game purchasing habits... so much so that the activity on Microsoft's Xbox Live and Playstation's Playstation Store are often overlooked.

Tied to the recent price break on the Playstation 3 system (which moved nearly 500,000 units in September - 2x their August number), they announced that 650 million pieces of content have been downloaded to date via the Playstation Store.

That is a very big number considering that: - there are 31 million registered Playstation Network accounts ... an average of 20+ downloads per user - the time online for the Playstation is significantly different than a Facebook user (and more costly) This was also announced before Playstation's Facebook Connect integration went live (November 16th).

Whether you believe that Farmville is the future of gaming, it is tough to argue that it doesn't represent key elements of what traditional gaming has and will become:

- Inherently social both during and between game play (Facebook Connect is an example) - Featuring in-game micro-payments (a greater percentage of those 650m downloads will shift to small, paid orders) - Cross platform (and I do not mean Xbox vs. PS3 vs. Wii: game play to some degree will exist between the game itself, site's like Facebook and the community - via the online stores and Facebook Connect enabled micro-sites)


Why Would You Ever Purchase Video Games Off Amazon?

This morning, Motley Fool asks whether it is game over for Game Stop as Toys "R" Us in encroaching into their territory of video game buying / selling / trading. ... who cares?

I continue to ask why you would ever shop at Game Stop? Or Toys "R" Us or the Playstation Store (now closing) and so on for Video Games?

I just bought MLB The Show 2009 for Playstation 3 on Amazon. It arrived on 'opening' day, was discounted by 5-10% and didn't include taxes. Furthermore, it was entirely hassle free: a few clicks on and it arrived at my front door.

And Amazon now has a trade in program to save an additional 10% (which is about what you would get at Game Stop... if you want to extract the maximum value of trade ins, you are best served on eBay or


The same question stands for purchasing DVDs at Borders and Barnes & Nobles. They cost nearly double the price of that found on Amazon and have far worse selection. Unless you need a movie specifically at that moment - these purchases makes no sense.

Sony Closes Metreon Playstation Store

Sign of the economic apocalypse part 153:Sony's landmark Metreon Playstation store is closing.

I walk by the Sony Metreon every day on my way to and from work. And I have certainly noticed the decline in foot-traffic and visitors inside the Playstation store (which sits on 4th Street and Mission). I am surprised, however, that the closure will only affect the Playstation store - after all, the Sony store beside it has always been empty (economic downturn or not). The store is well laid out - but it baffles me as to why you would ever purchase anything directly from the Sony Store when you can buy it online and save dramatically on price and tax. It's akin to buying a movie at Borders or Barnes & Nobles - why would you ever pay $29.99 for a DVD or more for a Blu Ray?

Nintendo Wii and Wii Fit Dominate eBay Shopping

TechCrunch posted this morning about the top tech gadgets as measured by eBay's top sales (always a good indication of macro-level trending and habits... one reason why I enjoyed working at eBay so much). Michael Arrington focuses mostly on the remaining popularity of the Nintendo Wii - which is stunning considering how its their second consecutive holiday season and so few games have been released.

Here are my thoughts:

- 83% of the top 15 items are video games. I've said it before: video games are a massive business

- 12% is mobile and the Blackberry Curve + Blackberry Pearl are bigger than the iPod 3G (clearly the price point and used market)

- Only two tech items are non-mobile / non-gaming: the iPod Touch (really surprised) and the MacBook Air

- The Wii Fit is amazing. More Wii Fits were sold than Playstation 3s and Guitar Hero IIIs combined.

- The drop off from the Nintendo Wii and Xbox360 is huge. The Wii sold 2mm+ items, the Xbox 1.3m and then next biggest item was 350k. Furthermore, the 15th item only sold 1,650 units

The Top 15 Tech Purchases Nintendo Wii: 2,056,866 related items sold Microsoft Xbox360: 1,297,903 related items sold Sony PSP: 350,591 related items sold iPod Touch: 281,361 related items sold Nintendo Wii Fit: 266,584 related items sold Apple iPhone 3G: 212,837 related items sold BlackBerry Pearl: 207,688 related items sold BlackBerry Curve: 193,788 related items sold Sony Playstation 3: 103,333 related items sold Guitar Hero III: 98,159 related items sold Halo 3: 91,067 related items sold Grand Theft Auto IV: 43,005 related items sold MacBook Air: 12,423 related items sold Guitar Hero Aerosmith: 3,749 related items sold Rock Band 2’s: 1,650 related items sold

Wii Fit Game Nintendo