Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Online Movie Rental and the One Billionth Movie for Netflix: Putting it in Perspective

Friday, June 5th, 2009
Christine Peppler asked:


Online movie rental is popular. Like any service or product that sells a one billionth unit one must assume that it is valued, that the quality is high, and that customers are satisfied or it would not have reached such a mark. Indeed, the exclusive one billion club includes some pretty impressive members and in many cases members have had to endure for many years to attain membership.

In February 2007, Netflix, the founding online movie rental service, delivered its one billionth DVD. This was just beyond seven and half years after their initial offering in September 1999. Certainly, this was a milestone to celebrate for Netflix and one that reflects well upon the popularity of the service but how does it stack up to the achievements of other products and services which have attained this status?

One company that also recently hit the billion mark is Casio. In January of 2007, Casio sold its one billionth calculator. Impressive, however it took Casio approximately fifty years to reach this milestone. In 2049, when the online movie rental pioneer recognizes its fiftieth year, the 7 billion mark could be realized even if growth does not escalate. Will Netflix still be around? If it is, it will probably be a bit different, but it’s flexibility in adapting its service in response to changing technologies is a positive sign. The first step in moving toward electronic versus mail delivery was initiated earlier this year.

Computers are probably considered one of the biggest product introductions into the market during the past century. The growth of the internet was explosive in the 1990’s. However, it wasn’t until approximately 25 years after the introduction of personal computers that the one billionth unit was shipped back in 2002; and this was a worldwide market. Likewise, despite humble beginnings way back in 1969 the internet experienced its billionth user, worldwide, in December 2005; nearly 36 years later. The Netflix online movie rental service is a more local service; providing classic, indie, and new release films for an audience based in the US. Of course, all of this could change as electronic delivery takes hold in coming years; could Netflix become an international player?

Certainly, when one imagines “billions” being sold, the name McDonald’s is bound to crop up. We all know that many billions have been served but how long did it take them to reach their first billion? It appears that it took approximately 15 years after their introduction to achieve this status. At the time of course, McDonald’s was not the mega international corporation that it is now. In addition, families ate most of their meals at home in the early years of the fast food icon. Perhaps McDonalds and similar services played a role in changing how Americans dine; taking them out of the home for nearly half of their meals. This change certainly played a role in hitting the billion mark. Likewise, it would seem that online movie rental services are also changing how we obtain and view movies; first from the comfort of our homes and now on demand through electronic delivery.

Global markets certainly increase the likelihood of attaining the one billion mark and getting there fast. Mobile phones, probably more than any other product, have taken the world by storm in the past fifteen years or so. Clearly mobile phones are used globally. In addition, these devices perform a wide range of tasks that make them nearly indispensable in the modern world. From communication and entertainment to connectivity and personal assistant types of functions, mobile phones are multi-tasking wonders. It is estimated that at least one billion mobile phones were shipped in 2006 alone.

Apple’s iTunes has experienced similar success. After only three years in operation the service served up its one billionth download in Feburary 2006.

Online movie rental is not currently a global service like iTunes or mobile phones. Could this change? Perhaps. Certainly, iTunes has altered the way many people enjoy their music and mobile phones have changed the way we do business and stay in touch with others. Likewise, online movie rental appears to be gradually changing the way we enjoy movies. Perhaps recent changes to implement improved delivery will be the key to matching the success of mobile phones and the music downloads of iTunes.