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Nov 23, 2010


Matt Jacobs
Fighting over the remote is one thing, fighting over personalized display of information layered on top of the show everyone in the room is watching is another.

Netflix has a similar problem. The Roku and many of the other devices only let you attach one account to your device. Don't they know my wife, me, and my non-existant kids all have very different queues?

This is just further proof that someone is poised to make a killing in the living room when they figure this stuff out.

Michael Sippey

I like the idea of you having Netflix queues for your non-existent kids...here are the movies you WILL watch, when you get old enough. You could program the entire first 15 years of their life, leaving just enough room in their screentime schedule for new Pixar movies.

Martin Atkins

I have this very problem with my Roku. The Netflix account on my Roku is mine, but my girlfriend often watches shows on it that I'm not interested in. On the other hand, the Pandora app is using her account, so I mess her up every time I want to listen to some music.

There was some discussion about this on the Roku forums. The consensus from the user community was that the device should have system-wide profiles that you can switch between. I'm not sure that's the right answer, since there are often multiple people in the room when the TV is in use, and you'd need to make an arbitrary decision about whose Netflix account gets "credit" for watching that show. The best suggestion the Roku staffers had for now was to buy multiple devices and use one each, which I'm sure they'd love but there's only just so much space next to my TV and only just so many input jacks on my TV.

It's interesting to note how things have come full-circle with user personalization: in the early days of personal computing families often shared a user account (or used an OS with no concept of distinct user accounts) and found some way to compromise on the settings in that user account. Then desktop operating systems introduced multiple user accounts to solve that problem, which I would argue was one of the enablers for widespread use of web-based applications since it enabled an individual to have an identity on the computer.

Mobile devices returned to the single user model but they lend themselves well to having one per person. It seems that this first generation of on-TV app experiences is trying to follow the model that has proven itself on mobile, but we clearly need some new model here that allows for the fuzzy nature of entertainment consumption in the family room. I reckon this is a blocker for widespread adoption of this technology by anyone except single folks living alone.

Matt Jacobs

Mart: I think we should all have Xbox Kinects and Netflix should know who is in the room and give everyone credit for the show. And Pandora should find the intersection of everyone's tastes.

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