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Netflix To Eliminate Profiles Feature 508

Donald Burr of Borg writes "One of my favorite features of Netflix, the video-rental-by-mail service, is 'profiles.' Profiles lets you create 'sub-accounts' for your friends/family, so that they can share in the video rental love. Each profile gets his/her own Netflix queue that he/she can manage with their own login/password. You can divide up how many movies get sent to you vs. the other profiles under your account. E.g. if you have a 6-out-at-once plan, you can choose to get 3 movies at a time, and have 3 other profiles each receive 1 movie. Unfortunately, the fun stops September 1, at which point Netflix is, for unknown reasons, going to terminate this feature. Why? To '...help us to continue to improve the Netflix website for all our customers.' Improvement indeed."
Book Reviews

Programming Collective Intelligence 74

Joe Kauzlarich writes "In 2006, the on-line movie rental store Netflix proposed a $1 million prize to whomever could write a movie recommendation algorithm that offered a ten percent improvement over their own. As of this writing, the intriguingly-named Gravity and Dinosaurs team holds first place by a slim margin of .07 percent over BellKor, their algorithm an 8.82 percent improvement on the Netflix benchmark. So, the question remains, how do they write these so-called recommendation algorithms? A new O'Reilly book gives us a thorough introduction to the basics of this and similar lucrative sciences." Keep reading for the rest of Joe's review.

Postal Service Surcharge Could Slash Netflix Profit 268

mikesd81 writes "Boston.com reports that Netflix Inc., the largest US mail-order movie-rental service, may suffer a cut in profits if the US Postal Service starts charging extra to manually sort the envelopes that carry its DVDs. An audit prepared by the Postal Service's Inspector General last month recommended charging one unidentified company 17 cents per envelope for labor costs. Citigroup analyst Tony Wible, who said in a note to investors Tuesday that the company is Netflix, estimated the charge might reduce profit per subscriber to $0.35 from $1.05. Wible advises investors to buy Blockbusters shares because their DVD envelopes don't have the problem (floppy edges that jam the USPS's automated sorting machinery). Netflix says the whole thing is no big deal and they will change their envelopes if necessary."

Amazon & Tivo Take on Netflix 97

RadioTV writes "Amazon is in Beta testing with select Tivo users to allow Unbox videos to be downloaded to Series 2 and 3 set-top boxes. The FAQ for the service is available." The price point for movies is fairly reasonable. No HD and won't work with DirecTV's obsoleted HD tivo, but this is a step in the right direction.

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