Tales from The Long Tail: an interview with the co-founder of Peerflix

Today’s Tales from The Long Tail link is an interview with Peerflix co-founder Billy McNair by my closest-in-geography-blogger, F-Stop Blues‘ Tim Coyle. In the interview, Peerflix is explained (if you don’t know what it is, read the interview!), and its founder talks about the service’s bright future:

Currently people mail DVD’s to one another. Do you see a point where people might download digital copies of the movies instead of mailing them? It seems to me this service might be a great way to legalize P2P trading in some aspects.

While we think that the U.S. is still a few years away from the masses downloading digital movies, Peerflix is absolutely well positioned to take advantage of that opportunity when it arises. While early adopters will move to digital files of movies within the next couple years, the mainstream American consumer probably will not be at that point for at least 3-5 years. There are a number of factors in play to move to digital movies including, for example, integration of Internet connectivity/PC/television, as most people arent interested in watching movies on their PC. In addition, there are bandwidth and distribution limitations.

All that being said, Peerflix has the technology today to legally enable our members to trade digital movie files via the Internet. We are waiting for the right market opportunity in terms of technology adoption, consumer preferences and legal environment to deploy this technology to our user base.

But the best part of the interview came as McNair was taking about the advantages of Peerflix over more “traditional” models like Netflix. Here, I think McNair really hits the “long tail” moment of the interview:

Peeflix is a peer to peer network and, as such, Peerflix is able to keep overhead to a minimum. Peerflix has no regional distribution centers (in fact, every household in America is a Peerflix distribution center!) or other logistical overhead. As a result, Peerflix is able to save on these significant capital costs and pass this cost savings along to our members enabling them to receive DVDs that theyd like to watch for only $0.99 each!

Professional ad blogger: frequency, professional design matter

B.L. Ochman (one of the many fine folks I had the pleasure of meeting in Nashville last weekend) has begun an interview series on her blog, whatsnext. First up is Adrants Steve Hall, who says, among other things, that frequency matters when blogging professionally:

Hall posts 12 to 15 times a day. He doesn’t have a hard and fast rule, but “If something is going on in industry I will write about it. Because Adrants is a news source, I can’t give a broad enough picture in a day with just a couple of posts.”

Later on, in my favorite segment of the interview, Hall shares his belief that a professionally-designed blog is an important aspect of professional blogging:

Hall did Adrants’ first four designs himself. When he got serious about running advertising he needed the site to have a more professional look. And he wanted more strength on the back end. He switched to Moveable Type [sic] and hired a designer who knew how to make it work smoothly. “You get to a point and you say ‘let’s do this right.’ I have advertisers paying me money. The site has to work properly.”

Amen, Steve. As a web developer, blogger, and web developer of blogs, I am greatful to read Steve’s thoughts on this issue. Quite a few professional bloggers should listen to Steve’s words and seriously consider them.

Of course, the refrain heard most often from “professional” bloggers (quotes because that line is incredibly blurry) is that they don’t have the financial resources for a professional design. But like an advertising guru will tell you, “good advertising makes you money”…and it’s been my experience that the same goes for a professionally-designed site.

Thank you, Mark!

Mark Glaser, one of the best writers out there covering the web/blogging beat, has posted a great wrap-up of BlogNashville over at OJR.

Glaser summarizes the key points coming out of the conference by offering up a list of “Seven big ideas (and one pet peeve)”…and lo and behold, the list includes one item created by me!

5. BlogNashville site aggregates blog posts and photos from conference. OK, it’s the ultimate self-referential move, but that doesn’t mean it’s not helpful. The conference’s Web site includes a page called “Discussion,” that’s not really a discussion but actually an aggregation of all the BlogNashville blog posts via Technorati, photos via Flickr and Web links via del.icio.us. Not only is it a great running tally of the post-convention commentary, but you can also subscribe to RSS feeds to get the latest in your newsreader. This is the type of page that should be a requirement for all conventions in the future.

Thanks for the kind words about the BlogNashville Discussion page, Mark.

Final thoughts on BlogNashville

Blogdex screenshot

Now that BlogNashville is in the rear-view mirror, I have two final thoughts.

My first comment is a big yee haw! If you click the fuzzy picture up top here, you’ll see a full-size screenshot of Blogdex, a service that essentially takes a snapshot of the most popular links around the blogosphere on a given day. Since I first stumbled across Blogdex a couple of years ago, it’s been a secret dream of mine to have a site I built appear on the Blogdex front page. So I was pretty happy to see BlogNashville- a site I was fortunate enough to build for my good friend, Media Bloggers Association prez and BlogNashville organizer Bob Cox – appear on Blogdex on Sunday.

That leads me to my second point. I owe a big public thanks to Bob for continually (and curiously) allowing me a front-row seat to some of the coolest happenings, projects, and people in blogosphere over the past few months. Those of you who are lucky enough to know Bob know exactly what I mean when I say that he is both a pleasure and a blast to work with.

Don’t be too sure of parity

With today’s news that the FCC would allow further deregulation of the media industry, effectively allowing fewer companies to own more media properties, it’s interesting to note a similar, if ironic trend, going on with the Web.

It’s conventional wisdom (for whatever that’s worth) that in traditional media, the fewer the companies the worse the user experience. For example:

  • Clear Channel owns thousands of radio stations, therefore only a handful of watered-down, corporate-approved songs make it into 60% of the nations radio market.
  • AOL/Time Warner owns several TV networks in addition to its movie studio, meaning that simple economics dictate crappy bomb movies will be shown over and over again on Comedy Central and TBS simply because they’re cheaper to buy and air repeatedly.
  • ..and you get the idea.

The irony here is that this situation- the few owning the many- is in the best cases a very good thing for the Web. Notice:

The best companies on the Web are focusing on the user experience, and they’re winning. There’s only a small handful of them right now, but it’s no coincidence that three of the top 5 Web companies are also three of the most popular, well-known Web sites in the world.

Amazon has expanded its simple, powerful interface to a new Web index, Alexa, which is still taking off. The biggest mystery of all is why the parent hasn’t reshaped their child IMDB.com in their award-winning image, considering it’s easily the best, most widely used and referenced movie & TV database online.

That’s not to mention the offline and online retailers who have moved under Amazon’s banner, and not the reverse- including CDNOW, Target, Toy’s R Us, and many others.

Google, the most popular search engine, is revolutionizing the online news habit with it’s , a smash after less than a year in existence. Though Google doesn’t own any subsidiary companies of note, they are a monopoly on search, the most user-centric tool on the Web, and they’re creating new usable ideas almost every week, from the news to text ads.

And there is one recent purchase of note that has made Google a parent company- Blogger, the first ever Weblog tool, was snapped up by Google last February. Though the once-leading Blogger is now sagging far behind the much more confusing, elitist MovableType software, it still says a lot about Google that they made the purchase, signaling an important trend towards the categorization and indexing of the disparate, dynamic blog culture.

Finally, there’s Ebay, the online auction site. Setting the pace with a clean, text-based design heavy on content and superior features for free, eBay strattles the lowest common denominator in an accessable way that attracts power users and alike, clearly the key to its brilliant strategy.