Read about the new movie recommendation engine Jinni on Techcrunch earlier today. I’ve done a few queries, and love the particularly rich axes along which they slice and dice the catalog of movies. They call their taxonomy the Movie Genome Project, and admit that it aims to do for movies what the Music Genome Project (most famously in use at Pandora) has adeptly done for music.
While they’ve done a great job of building a really nice movie recommendation service so far, and I can’t wait to see where they go next, one particularly significant missing piece today is integration with the Netflix API. As with most of the profile data that I scatter around on the web, I don’t want to have to enter movie ratings on every single web site that could use them to improve my experience. The good news is that Netflix has cracked open most parts of their user database and will allow me to grant access to third party sites using OAuth to read the ratings that I’ve already entered, as well as add ratings for additional movies. They will also allow sites to add movies to my queue or even stream the movie via Watch Instantly.
If Jinni were better integrated with Netflix, it might become the only site that I use to manage my movie-rental experience. Which is great for Jinni, and just fine for Netflix. If Netflix spends only enough money on web application R&D to provide a basic experience, they can focus more resources on doing what they uniquely do best—getting movies in front of my eyes either via mail or via streaming over the Internet. That is, by enabling sites like Jinni to supplant some of the work that Netflix has historically had to be good at, Netflix ends up with a more satisfied and loyal customer.
Update: Minor edit to fix up an unclear pronoun in the last paragraph.