Movies are Becoming Like Books

September 23, 2010

One thing that I’ve noticed about our customer behavior at SoftLayer is that as these Internet-centric businesses grow and they add more servers, their bandwidth usage per server also grows. A lot. Why? Their customers are using more bandwidth. I’ll wager that this trend is not unique to SoftLayer customers, but it’s something that’s happening across the board.

Here’s how I’ve been contributing to this end user bandwidth demand. Back in June, I ordered an iPad. Since I was already a Netflix customer, I downloaded their free iPad app. I found that the instant movie streaming is awesome. Every few days now, I look at what’s been newly released for instant streaming, put it in list view and sort by star rating high to low. It’s not only new movies but also old movies just newly set up for instant streaming. Then I pick something I’ve never seen and start watching.

What I really like is that I don’t have to budget the time to watch the whole movie. With my iPad, I can catch 15 minutes here, 20 minutes there, and watch the movie at my leisure over two or three days. Netflix restarts the movie where I left off when I open the app again.

This makes watching a movie much like reading a book. You can mark the spot you left off and pick it up again when you get a chance. You can stop the movie and back up to a particular time stamp to review a plot twist that you didn’t fully understand, or see that action sequence once again, just like my DVR at home. I’m currently working through “Eight Men Out” in this way.

So if I run to the car wash (which provides free wifi) and I know I’ll be waiting 15-20 minutes, I can grab my iPad and I have a choice of reading a book, watching a movie, playing games, or even getting some work done. If I go the movie route, I’m helping to increase the demand for bandwidth.

I’d actually like Netflix to let watching a movie become even more like reading a book. Like allowing “highlighting” to mark a beginning and ending timestamp to a clip you can save for future use. Or the ability to save notes at a particular timestamp. Or even better – allow you to do vocal commentary on a separate audio track. There are a couple of clips in “Eight Men Out” that I’d like to save for future use.

So, get to work on all that Netflix. :-)