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Netflix Debuts Max, a Playful Personal Discovery System, on PS3

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Experimenting with content discovery interfaces, subscription video-on-demand service Netflix introduced Max today, a playful model that Todd Yellin, Netflix's vice president of product innovation, joked is the child of Siri and HAL 9000. Hedging its bets, however, Netflix is only introducing Max on the PlayStation 3. If PS3 owners don't warm to Max, this could be the last you hear about it.

Netflix is already strong at content recommendations, but with Max is breaks out of the lists of titles and genres to introduce a discovery host. Max offers to find suggestions based on the mood the viewer is in, and uses a few gamified tools to accomplish that. Viewers might be asked to play the "Ratings Game," rating multiple titles in the genre of their choice. Or they might be asked to choose between two dissimilar movie stars, to show what they're in the mood for. When Max is confident that it knows what the viewer likes, it might offer a mystery suggestion. In that case, the viewer needs to click Play to find out what the title is.

While Max's fate is far from certain, it's interesting to see a major provider experimenting with content discovery options. PS3 owners with Netflix should give it a try, to see if they like what Max has to offer.

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