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App-Rising.com covers the development and adoption of broadband applications, the deployment of and need for broadband networks, and the demands placed on policy to adapt to the revolutionary opportunities made possible by the Internet.

App-Rising.com is written by Geoff Daily, a DC-based technology journalist, broadband activist, marketing consultant, and Internet entrepreneur.

App-Rising.com is supported in part by AT&T;, however all views and opinions expressed herein are solely my own.

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January 3, 2008 1:00 PM

More Good/Bad News, This Time from the Crusade to Conquer Movie Downloads

It never ceases to amazes me how often the discovery of an optimistic story of the Internet comes alongside that of a pessimistic tail of failure elsewhere.

Today I've had not one but two colleagues mention to me the recent partnership of Netflix and LG Electronics to develop a new set-top box along with other avenues that enables the delivery of movies from Netflix over the Internet to the TV.

Yesterday I read about the demise of Wal-Mart's digital download service for movies.

Anyone else find this funny? The nation's largest retailer of DVDs couldn't make digital downloads work just as the nation's largest DVD-rental-by-mail company decides to give it a go.

This isn't to say this is an apples-to-apples comparison, though. Netflix has already been delivering movies to the computer as a free add-on to their mail service under the simple premise that a movie delivered online means saving the cost of mailing media. Whereas Wal-Mart was totally new to the space, having to take a big step outside of its core business acumen of making the delivery and retailing of physical goods as efficient as possible.

At the same time, Wal-Mart isn't the first company to underperform or completely fail at establishing a viable business in getting customers to pay for video delivered over the Internet, so despite Netflix's built-in user base, existing revenue, and relationships with content providers it's hard to get too excited about another movies-on-a-box offering. That said, eventually someone has to be a big winner in this space and Netflix likely has as good a shot as anyone.

But for now that's mere speculation as their announced partnership did not include any ready-for-market products.

Even still, my point holds true: too often stories of Internet success seem accompanied by Internet failure. For every opportunity seized so many others miss out despite the best of intentions.

Some of this failure is good as it allows for lessons to be learned that can be applied to later, better iterations of an idea, and other failure is welcome as the free competition of the Internet marketplace weans out the weakest products and services, as is arguably the case with Wal-Mart's digital downloads.

But too often failure is attributed to lack of awareness and acceptance by users, or resistance from entrenched interests, or the basic inability to understand and utilization the potential the tools of the Internet have to offer.

What we need is a fundamental reimagining of how we approach broadband initiatives, where we stop considering things as individual initiatives and start thinking about them as part of a larger whole. We shift our thoughts from "How can I use this cool app" to "How I can improve what already exists through the use of broadband".

Only then will we move past the one-step-forward-one-step-back pace of Internet development and make possible a society where the use of broadband is intrinsically weaved into the fabric of our lives, leaving us all the better for it.


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