Last Autumn Netflix announced that it would soon be starting to rent video games through its service. Unfortunately for anyone looking forward to this new features Netflix has this week announced that they will now be dropping plans for this. CEO Reed Hastings made the announcement in an investor earnings meeting call earlier today, explaining that the strategy is no longer one that the company finds viable.
The new games rental service was expected to to be part of the company’s Qwikster DVD-by-mail spin-off that was announced alongside Netflix’s streaming price increase last fall. However the Qwikster DVD-by-mail spin-off was soon closed after negative feedback from Netflix customers
Whether Netflix will re-address the service in the future has not been mentioned so if you were hoping to rent a game or two, you out of luck. But you can be sure that game rental company Gamefly will be very happy not having to deal with competition from Netflix.
Other announcements made this morning included notification that 3D, Blu-ray 3D discs are being sorted for addition to their range of products, and the company stated its still “looking into” streaming 3D, but has no plans to bid for current seasons TV series.
Kiss that old “New Xbox Experience” goodbye — the Xbox Dashboard just went full Metro. Microsoft teased the console’s latest overhaul back at E3, promising to “change living room entertainment forever.” The following months saw leaks, previews and betas, all leading up to today, the eve of the Xbox 360′s Fall Dashboard update. Is the new dash the game-changer it hopes to be? Hit the break, and we’ll find out together.
Ever since Nintendo’s GDC announcement in March we’ve been waiting for Netflix streaming on the 3DS, and it appears tomorrow’s eShop update will do the trick. This may be too late for those that followed through on threats to cancel after the new rates were announced yesterday, but all other 3DS owners can get their Parks & Rec (in 3D?) anywhere in range of a WiFi signal. Joystiq also points out there’s also two Game Boy games coming in tomorrow’s update, Game & Watch Gallery and Baseball, just in case you’re interested in using your portable game machine to actually play games.
According to a blog post and press release (after the break) Hulu is bringing Miramax films to its free and paid Hulu Plus services. This is also the same day the Miramax deal kicks in for Netflix, so both just added notable movies including Clerks, Swingers, Basquiat, The Crow and Reservoir Dogs. Miramax movies on Hulu Plus are presented ad-free and in HD, just like on Netflix Watch Instantly, and both appear to have the same selection available, although one negative side effect of parity is that neither has optional closed captions on streaming for any of them. The only difference so far? Soon, Hulu will offer a rotation of 15 Miramax movies per month through Hulu.com for ad-supported viewing. While we’re sure some will wait for Miramax to work through its Blu-ray release backlog (CEO Mike Lang is on it, although we still don’t have a date for Pulp Fiction) it’s good to suddenly see a catalog that had been locked away due to the studio’s pending sale suddenly become available through so many outlets.
Tired of content providers bossing you around, telling you what you can do with your own phone? Good, because Netflix is sick of telling you kids to keep off its lawn. Following a recent update, the outfit’s Android app now officially supports the LG Revolution, Motorola Droid, Casio G’zOne Commando C771, and any unsupported device that just happens to work on its own. In addition to adding official support for the aforementioned trio (and of course, some minor bug fixes), the stream king removed a device check that previously blocked unsupported handsets from attempting playback. Your mileage may vary, but the folks over at Droid Life are reporting success with both the Droid X and Droid X2, as well as the Xperia Play. That’s no guarantee for you and your unsupported device, but at least you have the freedom to fail. That’s nice, isn’t it?
Verizon is seriously diversifying its portfolio today with the official in-store launch of four new smartphones. Three of them roll up in Android gear, though they all have major selling points beyond Google’s software. LG’s Revolution is the sole LTE-capable handset of the bunch, bringing with it a 4.3-inch screen and pre-installed Netflix for $250. The Droid X2 undercuts it on price, at $200, but doubles the core count with its Tegra 2 processor and ramps up resolution to qHD (960 x 540). Gaming aficionados can spend the same amount on the Xperia Play from Sony Ericsson, which offers a slideout gamepad and unique PlayStation Certified status. Bringing up the rear is HTC’s well-traveled Trophy, a 3.8-inch Windows Phone that accepts it’s a little late to the party and therefore slices $50 off its asking price, with a $150 levy before the obligatory two-year contract. What say you — buy, try, or keep waiting?
At its “Spectacularge” press conference today Sharp announced its new 70-inch LC-70LE732U is the largest LCD HDTV on the market . It sports Quattron four color pixels, full LED backlighting, Netflix, CinemaNow, Vudu Apps and DLNA access among its list of features, but no 3D. That will be remedied by one of the three additional models of 70-inch LCDs Sharp says it will ship this summer but in the meantime we’re just enjoying a throwback to the heady days of 2006 when consumer LCDs were last found in this size range. Interested parties with enough green to cover the $3,799 MSRP should be able to order these at their local retailers, while the rest can gawk at the specs in the press release and hands-on shots. Oh, and as for those adjectives you’ll see just past the break — a preview of Sharp’s marketing campaign, whose target customer has an “emotional” connection to the word big — well, somewhere Freud is having a field day.
It’s no secret that Netflix has grand plans to expand its global footprint that now feeds media to some 20 million North American subscribers. Hell, the company was boasting of the “significant dollars” allocated to its 2011 international expansion plans just four months ago. While nothing’s official yet, we’ve unearthed a few tantalizing openings posted to the Netflix job site over the last few days that could point to an imminent launch. Notably, Netflix’s customer service call center in Hillsboro Oregon is gearing up to expand its scope of operations beyond North America. Two new job postings for a Training Supervisor and Quality Assurance Analyst both mention the need to prepare for “rapid” international expansion and “will support a specific country / region outside of North America.” The Training Supervisor is being hired specifically to educate customer service reps in preparation for that future international growth. Neflix is looking for fluency in English in addition to Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazilian and European), and Spanish (Latin American and European), leaving things pretty wide open with regard to the countries targeted for initial launch.
We do know that Netflix had plans to launch in the UK way back in 2004 — plans that were ultimately scrapped in order to focus on its core US business (and later Canada). But if not the UK then we should at least expect to see Netflix target the European continent first if a statement attributed to CEO Reed Hastings from way back in January of 2010 still rings true: “the big market for Hollywood content (after the U.S.) is Europe…Third is Asia. Fourth is the rest of the world.” Can’t let Amazon have the market to itself now can we Reed?
It didn’t make it into the iOS 4.3 update notes, but second generation Apple TV owners are experiencing several new capabilities today including the ability to stream baseball and basketball games via NBA League Pass Broadband or MLB.tv and support for 5.1 audio on Netflix Watch Instantly. The Apple TV isn’t the first device to bring these in front of the TV (the PS3 says hello, while Roku is still enjoying a decent lead in sports) but if it’s the box hooked up to your flat screen already we see no reason to quibble — if you’re not seeing the 4.2 update yet, try hooking the lil’ hockey puck to your computer via USB and letting iTunes do the work. NFL Sunday Ticket access is still the big fish no one has managed to land yet when it comes to sports in a post-cable cutting world, but we’ll wait to find out if there will even be a 2011 season before expecting any word on that.