John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Forward-Looking Statements: Netflix Set-Top Box May Be Total Vaporware

netflixbox.jpgIt appears there may be a bit of a boxing match shaping up between Apple and Netflix. Amid reports that Apple has inked a video-on-demand deal with Twentieth Century Fox, Netflix has announced plans to develop a set-top box that will give consumers the ability to stream movies directly from the Internet to HDTVs. The DVD-by-mail pioneer has enlisted South Korean manufacturer LG Electronics to build a set-top box that will extend its Watch Instantly online movie-delivery service from the PC to the TV. Netflix plans to offer the service–expected to roll out in the fall–for free to its subscribers and the box for a price that’s yet to be announced.

“We think we have solved the real fundamental problem, which has been that choosing movies on a television has been extremely challenging,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings told the New York Times. “Video-on-demand companies worked at it for a long time, but choosing movies on the TV just doesn’t have the power of the Web. We want to be integrated on every Internet-connected device, game system, high-definition DVD player and dedicated Internet set-top box. Eventually, as TVs have wireless connectivity built into them, we’ll integrate right into the television.”

A compelling vision of Netflix’s future and one that may sound the death knell for Blockbuster, Amazon’s Unbox and Vudu as well. Or perhaps not. Certainly, this little bit of legalese at the tail-end of the press release announcing the services belies Hastings’s optimism just a wee bit.

This press release contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws, including statements regarding the development of a set-top box for delivery of content over the Internet to television sets, the delivery of a compelling online home entertainment service, Netflix’s strategy and positioning in online delivery of content, and the future of Internet to the television. These statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results and events to differ, including, without limitation; the risk that the development of the set-top box or its associated online delivery service may not meet technical requirements, consumer expectations, or otherwise be implemented by the parties; that certain studios will not grant either of the parties necessary rights or otherwise impose limitations on such rights that might impede implementation or hamper consumer adoption; Netflix’s ability to create other partnership opportunities for the delivery of digital content to the television; and possible technological or content licensing impediments.”

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus