Funny – I just read this :: http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/6215246
Notice that most of the list is not really about making anything better for users.
Back to the post…
As I am in the states I have been messing around with all the streaming services available in the states. Amazon, iTunes, Hulu, Netflix across a variety of devices like TVs, Roku, Apple TV, Sony Blu Ray, Xbox, iPhone, iPad, and who knows what else. Its amazing all the innovation but yet everything is generally a pain in the ass to use and all suffer from edge cases. Nothing is really awesome and nothing works well across all use cases.
As a precursor to all of this I know the general issue is that the content owners just don’t allow for innovation. It plain and simple how clear that is. So unfortunately I think the whole industry is held back by the owners of the content. This is why piracy is so rampant and in some sense the best user experience because product people can do amazing things with files, networks, and user experiences. Legal services cannot do anything they want and are mostly held back. Such is life. I don’t think this will change anytime soon.
It’s clear to me that even guys like Jason who is building https://www.vessel.com know this which is why they are focusing on user generated content since if they get it right they can do anything they want in reality. Of course there will be markets economics driving some decisions and they have to compete with YouTube while attracting content makers but still the playing field is much less restrictive than real content or shall we say trapped content. I have no idea how vessel will do but I think it will shake the market up some. YouTube is huge but the search experience, the curation and some of the viewing experiences are really broken. They are so big though they don’t care. Vessel has the time, money and experience to make a go of it.
In my own experience of using services while I am in the states I find that the best device to use is still Apple TV but it really could use an update. The remote sucks, the home screen is too cluttered and it needs more apps but the overall experience is better. On a technical note even if I am using Netflix I would rather use it via Apple TV cause it partially deals with one of my Netflix pet peeves which is streaming only and sucks on bad connections. Yes – America is full of shitty connections. However the way the Apple TV works, and it is the only Apple device that does this, the movie is essentially downloading as you watch it which means it does not pixelate or buffer much providing the viewing position is behind the download. If you use the Netflix app, Netflix on the web or Netflix via a smart TV app the streaming only issues will crop up. I need to dig into Roku more but I think it still streams versus downloading. All in all I prefer Apple TV and Netflix.
Problem is though Netflix is pretty shitty content wise. Sure you get the big Netflix hits and a few others but almost all new TV shows are not on it and the movie selection is dim. Which means that as the family gathers around the TV and we want to watch something new – we have being using the Apple TV to purchase movies on iTunes. The selection really is the best for movies and TV shows. Yes it costs money but if 15 of us are sitting in the room and we want to watch a new release, paying 4-10 bucks is still cheaper than going to the movies. So it is actually an affordable deal. Not everything is yet released on it but there is way more new content on iTunes than anywhere else. With Netflix I have to know what I want to watch cause there is no awesome way to sort movies by rating or by other characteristics, it is mostly just genres and then lists in the order that Netflix wants you to see it. I also find that I either want to use the Netflix app on iTunes or I connect my phone to the TV to use the iOS app. The Samsung Netflix apps are shit, the Roku one is okay and the Sony BluRay one is okay. None are amazing. In summation Netflix is the best for streaming, subscription and amount of content all wrapped up into one.
Just a quick side note – Sony makes the worst software ever. No wonder they lose money and are easily hacked.
The big issue I have is Netflix is streaming only. Which sucks if you are on a bad connection, are mobile or want to prep stuff for your kids. There is no way to download anything or cache anything so once you hit the road Netflix is useless. For this I turn to either YouTube or iTunes. YouTube cause I can stream easily on mobile and find lots of kids stuff but of course this is using mobile data. I can’t offline or download YouTube yet. For iTunes I can buy and download stuff and keep it on my device. This is awesome for road trips. It sucks that Apple does this but they can’t seem to figure out streaming. Again this is where any one service cant fit all models well. Netlfix won’t download and iTunes won’t stream. This stuff is not rocket science and it sucks they both can’t figure out how to combine these functions but my guess is that the content guys are part of the problem. I know from my own experience with Spuul that content people can dictate tech or product features. Sad but true.
All this means that there is no perfect service or device – well apart from just pirating whatever you want to watch. I like the Apple ecosystem more than others but it is also ripe for disruption if Apple does not ship a new Apple TV and figure out the cloud. Netflix is obviously the big service for streaming but the inability to control bandwidth, download and sort is such a big miss for me. It will be interesting to see how Netflix conquers new markets with these limitations. Google is in the mix but I honestly don’t use it apart from YouTube – Chromecast is cool and all but Apple TV works better for me. Mostly cause I am into iOS.
I am sure there a better solutions ahead but the content guys hold the keys I think. So the product guys can innovate all they want but the end result is content is king. The content guys are in the tech dark ages. This is why I am convinced that Vessel is focusing on user generated content first – this way the product can shine.