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A major oversight at Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX ) is finally getting checked off CEO Reed Hastings' "to do" list. The pioneer of mail-delivered DVD rentals is upgrading its movie-streaming service to include most Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) computers.
Once Netflix completes the rollout of its second-generation media player that is powered by Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT ) Silverlight platform, owners of Macs and MacBooks powered by Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) chips will be able to partake in what PC-tethered subscribers have been enjoying since last year: Web-based streaming of thousands of titles from the Netflix catalog at no additional cost.
This isn't all-inclusive of the Apple world. Owners of older Macs fueled by the PowerPC architecture that IBM (NYSE: IBM ) and Motorola (NYSE: MOT ) dreamed up are out of luck. Apple made the switch to Intel chips three years ago. However, Netflix notes that the new media player will play on the computers of roughly 75% of its Mac-based subscribers.
One can always argue that this isn't a necessary move. Netflix has been working hard at shaking enough hands in the home theater space -- with companies like Roku, Microsoft's Xbox 360, LG, and Samsung -- to give subscribers direct delivery of Web-streamed celluloid, regardless of their computing choices.
I disagree. Mac users weren't happy to be subsidizing a service that wasn't available on their computers. Netflix wasn't giving Mac owners a price break on their subscriptions. Since Hastings sits on the Microsoft board of directors, it just didn't look right to conspiracy theorists.
A few years ago, diehard Apple buffs could be brushed off as a niche audience. That is no longer the case. As Apple points out during this month's rollout of new MacBooks, the company is now accounting for 17.6% of retail market share in terms of units -- and a whopping 31.3% of the market in terms of revenue.
Making its streaming service available on Macs required lots of hoop-jumping, but if Netflix is serious about being the country's choice for filmed entertainment consumption, those are hoops worth jumping through.