Netflix and Apple TV – Great and Flawed

As a movie lover, I love  my Netflix subscription. I can get practically any movie ever made including many indie ones that never show near me. I pay one simple monthly fee and can watch as many movies as I can handle. I can take as much time to watch the movie as I need and return it at my convenience. It’s the kind of business model that’s made Netflix a winner and has put undue pressure on Blockbuster. What could be better?

Well, if I didn’t have to wait for the mail to get a movie. If I could sit in the comfort of my couch and order up movies instantly. Enter Apple TV. Especially with the new Take 2 version of Apple TV where rentals are part of the equation, the speed an simplicity of watching movies on demand is unparalleled.

Netflix and Apple have equal but opposite problems. Apple  has a fantastic distribution system but not nearly enough movies. Netflix has all the movies and then some, but an outdated and slower delivery method. I’m waiting for one or the other to deliver the knockout punch. If Netflix could only deliver online more effectively. Their current system for watching movies online is cumbersome, only works with Windows and is available for very few movies. So, it’s useless. Apple has very few movies available and at the rate they add movies, it will take a lifetime to match the Netflix selection. Also, Apple has some of the more draconian and lame DRM rules for rented movies. Lastly, at $3.99 per movie, it only takes 3 iTunes movie rentals to equal a basic Netflix subscription which gets you unlimited movies per month and no stupid DRM rules.

Now Apple is the 10,000lb gorilla in this match and should be able to knock out Netflix easily, but so long as Apple and Hollywood keep their heads in the ground, they’re never going to do it. I actually blame Hollywood on this one as they are mostly short sided and paranoid. I think Apple does want to knock out Netflix but Hollywood won’t let them. Hollywood execs are more scared of Steve Jobs than they are of the so-called movie pirates. Fear is never a winning business strategy.