In 2006, Netflix made its vast database of user-generated movie ratings available to the public, offering $1 million to the first team that could improve the accuracy of the company’s recommendations by 10 percent. That’s a lot of money—but Netflix could have spent much more on in-house development, with no guarantees. By 2009, the top team had its prize, and Netflix had its algorithm. Other groups took notice and are now holding their own contests, asking statisticians, computer scientists and basement hobbyists alike to mine complex data sets for solutions to some difficult problems.
In a short blog post today, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings announced a total reversal of the recent plans that so mildly inconvenienced and irked us. Instead of spinning off the physical media side--DVDs, Blu-ray, and now video games--into a whole new website to be called Qwikster, Netflix will now keep all that stuff under the Netflix umbrella. In other words: please calm down, customers. Nothing is changing.
Earlier this morning, Netflix sent out an apologetic email informing Netflix subscribers about a new development: Henceforth, decreed CEO Reed Hastings, the word "Netflix" will now refer to only the streaming video service. DVDs (and now video games) will be banished to another site, which will look identical to the old Netflix but which will be called "Qwikster" and be, for all intents and purposes, totally separate from Netflix.
This is dumb.
In 1996, when Steve Jobs came back to Apple after a decade-long exile, the company's products took a dramatic turn. The next 15 years would be a whirlwind of monstrous success after monstrous success--iMac, iPod, iTunes Music Store, Intel-based MacBook, iPhone, MacBook Air, iPad. Jobs's resignation as CEO yesterday has led to some excessive hand-wringing about Apple's future, near and far, but the Jobsian philosophy--in which the consumer is king, in which there is one right way to do things, in which it is always preferable to trim than to add--will hopefully have permeated Apple enough to weather his departure. It's already had an effect on the world at large.
Home theater PCs (HTPCs) have kind of fallen out of favor as simpler, more efficient media gadgets have sprung up. But as we found with the Apple TV, sometimes simpler doesn't mean better. Our friends at Sound+Vision took a second look at the HTPC, and found some distinct benefits for the DIY-minded: a cheap price, endless possible upgrades, and lots of flexibility and power. Check it out here.
Apple's new Apple TV has been overhauled. It's been shrunk to a tiny black square, with a new interface and some great new features. But while it does some things very well, it's severely lacking in both content and functionality.
Roku just announced that it'll be bringing Hulu Plus to its low-cost streaming video boxes later this fall. It's a great move, one that will move the evolution of TV one step further towards true connectedness. Along with Google TV, Apple TV, Boxee Box, and all the rest, this is part of a major push towards making your TV as web-happy as your computer.
If your video store isn’t already six feet under, XStreamHD will finally put it there. The company is launching the first set-top system able to download movies that are the exact quality of Blu-ray discs: 1080p high-def, near-flawless images, and 7.1 surround sound. Subscribers can rent or buy 200 best-selling titles starting this month, with the full high-def film and TV catalogs of all major studios not far behind.
By Gizmodo/John HerrmanPosted 04.02.2010 at 4:45 pm 8 Comments
Have an iPad coming and need to fill it up? The indefatigable John Herrman at Gizmodo has selected the apps to download first. We're re-printing his picks here. And what's that, Popular Science+? Nice. --Ed.
The iPad App Store is open! Here are the best of the apps so far—the ones you'll actually want when you finally get your iPad.