Unless you have shunned the Internet since Wednesday you have surely heard about the amazing Netflix socks. They have cute designs and will pause your TV if you fall asleep in the middle of an episode. You can read hundreds of stories about them.
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 & technology initiative.
Have a coffee table? Ever watch Netflix under a blanket? Both may block the connection between your socks and TV, rendering the socks 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 DIY 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 likely 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 if the diagram below makes your head spin, well, you probably won’t be wearing these socks anytime soon.
The socks aren’t cheap either. The recommended parts cost $61, plus whatever yarn or socks you use. If you have a coffee table, you’ll send to spend another $20 to make sure it doesn’t block the signal from the socks. That add-on also means even more work to complete.
Then there’s the problem of reusing the socks. Netflix’s instructions call for sowing the electronics into the socks. If you’re someone who likes to wash their socks — which 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 resew 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.