Netflix, Flash, Silverlight, support

Weird item at Motley Fool today: “This year, movie rental maven Netflix rewrote its streaming video service under a new toolset. Microsoft’s SilverLight has replaced the old Adobe Flash interface, and there was much rejoicing as the service became easier to use in a flash (pun intended). Some Netflix employees probably think it’s too good, even. Over the weekend, company spokesman Steve Swasey announced that Netflix doesn’t need 50 of its 300-odd customer support people anymore, because the SilverLight application simply doesn’t need a whole lot of support.”

This got picked up at Wall Street Journal and NewTeeVee, which referenced a source Netflix blogpost which doesn’t mention Flash.

I don’t recall that Netflix ever used Flash video. Searching their site shows few SWF, and searching on “adobe” shows only requests to move over to Flash video.

Looks like the Motley Fool conclusion may be based on an error in observation.

My best guess is that Netflix found it was easier to support Mac users for Silverlight than to try to help Mac and Linux users use Windows Media Player or Flip4Mac or other cross-platform video solutions from Microsoft. But it looks like Flash got mentioned only as a journalistic artifact, without discoverable relation to reality.

The Motley Fool writer concludes: “Microsoft seems to have hit a home run with SilverLight and is currently rounding the bases. If the product really is that much smoother and easier to support, then Adobe has a true challenge on its hands.” I assume from this assertion, that if he sees the reverse relation in support costs — that Silverlight imposes greater support costs than Flash, as we see in the forums — that he would then conclude that Microsoft’s challenges are even larger than they might first appear.

(If folks from Motley Fool stop by here, then thanks for visiting, and if you’de open up your comments and drop the registration bar, then such questions would be simpler to resolve, thanks.)