As of today, gamers can stream Netflix movies on their Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii without a disc. The new application can be downloaded for free on either platforms' online stores.
Microsoft's Xbox, of course, has featured disc-less streaming since 2008. The company signed an exclusivity clause with Microsoft, forcing out Sony and Nintendo of the online movie sector. Or so they thought. In a move to circumvent the legal restrictions on software sharing, Netflix provided a similar service on the PS3 and Wii but one -- and here's where Netflix got creative -- that required a disc. Different software, no legal bind. The discs were provided for free, and instantly, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings' dream of being "on all the game consoles, all the Blu-ray players, all the Internet TVs" was jumpstarted.
But Sony and Nintendo still had to deal with that pesky speed bump of a disc. Any PS3 user knows the pain of having to eject a game and insert the Netflix-provided disc every time they wanted to watch a movie. In a world of efficiency and an increasingly lazy population, this was a major hurdle and shifted some prospective buyers to the Xbox.
Now they're on equal ground, and even though the PS3 is late to the disc-less game it will offer dramatically more than either Nintendo or Microsoft, including a renovated interface, faster start times, Dolby Digital 5.1-channel surround and 1080p hi-definition support. PC World calls it the best version yet.
Now the world waits for Xbox's response.