Netflix socks may be just something to talk about
With so many news organizations writing about the amazing Netflix socks, you may have had trouble avoiding stories about them. The socks have cute designs and will pause your TV if you fall asleep in the middle of an episode. A Google search brings up hundreds of headlines:
"Netflix socks are seriously going to change your life." "Innovative." "The perfect solution." "Awesome."
Sounds pretty great, no? Except there's one big problem.
The socks are painfully complicated to assemble, expensive and difficult to use.
"It's going to generate some buzz and it's a fun thing to do, but I think it'll have limited, if any, commercial success," said Samuel Craig, director of NYU Stern's entertainment, media and technology initiative.
Have a coffee table? Ever watch Netflix under a blanket? Both may block the connection between your socks and TV, rendering the footwear worthless.
And if you're one of those people who twitches their legs while falling asleep, the socks won't pause your show at the appropriate moment. The socks interpret any movement as a sign that you're awake. (Once you stop moving the socks step in and pause your show.)
Of course, most will never get that far. Anyone looking to make the socks will need to be proficient in using a soldering iron and have computer programming experience.
"There's going to be a lot of resistance to the idea," said Shashi Matta, a marketing professor at Ohio State's business school. "It gets everybody's attention, but once they know about the [technological] aspect and the fact that you have to stick it in your socks, the fact it's an LED flashing, I don't think it will go down smoothly with consumers."
So why would Netflix even bother with a gadget that will probably never be made? Some marketing analysts said that it is likely a way to earn points with the tech community, especially those who like to tinker in their garages - and create a positive vibe associated with the company. It's also an invention that happens to emphasize binge watching on Netflix.
But it's likely you won't be wearing these socks anytime soon.
The socks aren't cheap. The recommended parts cost $61, plus whatever yarn or socks you use. If you have a coffee table, you'll spend another $20 to make sure it doesn't block the signal from the socks. That add-on also means more work to complete.
Then there's the problem of reusing the socks. Netflix's instructions call for sewing the electronics into the socks. If you're someone who likes to wash their socks - which hopefully is most of us - that's a problem. You can either give up on hygiene or take on the hassle of un-sewing the electronics from your sock before every wash cycle. Then re-sew the electronics back in before your next episode of "Master of None." Sounds fun, right?
"It doesn't come off as a meaningful problem-solver for a consumer," said Matta, who wondered why Netflix wasn't using a smartwatch or wearable app to determine when consumers were falling asleep. That would require less work from consumers and not add any costs.
Netflix did not respond to multiple requests for comment for this story. Perhaps there's no need to say anything more once a public relations effort has already won over the Internet.