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Video rental company Netflix (who happens to be a Gift Shop merchant, check them out!) held their quarterly conference call with investors, and they delivered both good and bad news for customers.
The bad news is that they plan on increasing rates for those customers who rent Blu-ray discs from them. Citing higher costs and the fact that people are used to paying more for HD, they plan on rolling out the Blu-ray tax some time this year.
The good news is that they are working with four hardware companies to integrate their "Watch Now" movie download functionality into set-top boxes. LG was the partner they mentioned back at CES in January, and they're saying that one of the companies was small, while the other two were major companies. My guess is that the small company would be Slingbox, and my hope is that the two larger companies are Sony (the PlayStation 3 already has all the necessary pieces in place, it just needs the software link to Netflix) and either Apple with their AppleTV product, TiVo, or Microsoft with the Xbox 360.
Given the lackluster sales of the AppleTV and Apple's historic unwillingness to step outside the apple-crate for solutions, the smarter money is on the others. TiVo has also been mentioned by some, and given their renewed vigor after their lawsuit against Dish Network was upheld, I wouldn't count them out by a long shot. They're already delivering movie downloads with Amazon Unbox, so they may feel they're covered in that department. Microsoft already has a movie download business model set up as well, but Netflix did a survey recently asking people if they would like to watch Netflix movies on their Xbox 360's, so who knows?
Bringing Netflix to the PlayStation 3 (in HD, of course) would be a great addition to the platform! My guess is that they're really talking about delivering SD-quality movies, because of the sheer size of even the most compressed movies in HD. While not as cool, it would be a first step that just requires some motivation to take it to the next level.
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