This week saw couch potatoes the world over rejoice: video streaming service, Netflix, which boasts an impressive catalog of TV series and movies, had finally gone global!
Anyone with a working knowledge of the internet is familiar with the app, which has become a phenomenon in the developed world and major markets that previously had the privilege of exclusive access.
This, of course changed in an instant with the announcement that true to previous predictions, the service was being rolled out to key regions such as South Korea, India and Africa (Kenya included), with the curious exception of China.
Netflix joins a long list of international giants taking an interest in global expansion, and even finding their home in Kenya.
Some of these companies have been with us so long we tend to forget their presence, which is true of large user electronics and technology companies.
While Netflix is presently available in Kenya as a product, much like fast food chains Subway, Cold Stone, or KFC, others have taken a bigger leap of faith and chosen Kenya as a base of operations.
Firms such as Huawei, Kaspersky Lab and Mastercard have all their East African operations headquartered in Nairobi, while Google, Mitzubishi Motors and many others use our little city as their anchor for operations throughout Africa. Don’t we feel special!
Of course no conversation on a new entrant to any market can be complete without armchair analysts jumping in with predictions on the changing face of the race for customers. In this case, fingers have been pointed at the Pay TV players.
Logical questions have been raised regarding the fate of high cost pay tv options with limited, often repeated and not slightly outdated content.
Netflix offers three pricing options that range from around $8 per month to $12 per month. Even at the current exchange rates of above KES.100 to the dollar, the priciest option amounts to less than KES.1,500 per month.
At the same time, there are concerns about the content that will be available for Kenya, as it seems unlikely that we will have the same impressive selection as other countries, a problem that already exists with Netflix USA having superior offerings to even the UK and Canada.
Another potential roadblock would be internet access. As the streaming is dependent on a reliable internet connection, some point out that the cost of such connectivity could eat up the amount you save by switching to Netflix in the first place.
This is of course in addition to sketchy internet connections interfering with one’s ability to enjoy their viewing experience.
To add salt to a fairly fresh wound, the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) seems intent on breaking up our party before it even begins.
KFCB’s announcement that Netflix has yet to submit their content for classification and vetting has drawn exasperated sighs from across the country.
We in the logistics industry watch this reaction with a deep sadness. That such progress can possibly be sidetracked by antiquated notions of preserving “national values and morals” per KFCB chair Ezekial Mutua, is worrying.
Standing firmly on the side of embracing technology and growth, we can only point at our own industry’s achievements for guidance on dealing with change.
The advent and popularity of drones has begun to revolutionize the working of supply chain management, and with this, regulations continue to be put together, not with the aim of stifling innovation, but guiding it towards mutual benefit.
We eagerly await the realization of Elon Musk’s hyperloop which will not just out-pace rail travel speeds, but make it more cost effective and propel us into the future. We want to move forward, do you?
Have an innovative week, won’t you?