Wow. The old Peerflix is gone. The new one is…not so appealing to me.
With the old Peerflix, I felt I was buying DVDs for $1.50 each (99 cents to Peerflix plus 51 cents postage)—much less than the cost of a rental at Blockbuster. The Peerflix trading currency, “Peerbux,” was like Monopoly money. Perhaps that was an illusion, but it worked for me.
The new Peerflix is all about real money. You buy DVDs for real money. You sell DVDs for real money. I never did that before. I don’t think I want to do it now.
So if I want to see, for example, October Sky, I now have to buy it for $9.50 on Peerflix. I’m wondering, is October Sky worth $9.50 to me? If it were only $1.50, I would pay that in a hearbeat. But if I have to pay $9.50, why don’t I just go buy it on eBay, where I know exactly when I will get it and what condition the disk will be in? (It looks as if I can get a brand new one on eBay for $9.74 including shipping.)
I gather from Michael Arrington’s Techcrunch post that the old Peerflix barter system just wasn’t working. Arrington’s prediction for the new system is that it won’t work either. Arrington writes:
Market economies work (see eBay), but Peerflix didn’t adopt a market system. They ditched a barter economy for a command and control system, where Peerflix uses a proprietary algorithm to determine the value of a DVD. That won’t work – eBay will always have a more efficient system for quickly equalizing supply and demand. Peerflix will constantly be tinkering with their pricing algorithm, while eBay lets its users do all the work.
This is easy criticism to give, but in reality Peerflix couldn’t adopt a market pricing system. If they had, there would be little to distinguish them from eBay to keep users going there.
Here, I have to disagree. From a buyer’s perspective, the fact that Peerflix limits the shipping and handling to $1.50 is a great start. Also, from a newbie seller’s point of view, Peerflix is much easier. You don’t need Paypal. You don’t even have to buy stamps or envelopes. There is plenty wrong with eBay that Peerflix could improve upon (see my previous post on that). So here is an idea I’ll give to Peerflix for free: switch to an auction system. Copy the auction interface from the old EA video game, M.U.L.E., by Dan Bunten, and provide nice graphs of the historical market price. That will turn Peerflix into a fun, low-stakes commodities exchange.