Netflix offers tempting details about future hardware

On Monday, Netflix discussed its favorable first quarter 2008 and tempted investors and subscribers alike with references to four mystery hardware manufacturers working on Netflix-enabled products.

Netflix executives made reference to a LG "product launch" scheduled for the second half of this year, which will bring to the market a Netflix-integrated set-top box.

"At this point, I can tell you we have LG plus three additional partners actively working on integrating our technology into their products," stated Netflix CEO Reed Hastings during Monday's quarterly conference call with analysts. "Three of the four partners are major companies which each sell millions of devices per year and will enable the Netflix functionality in some of those devices likely in Q4 of this year."

Remaining purposefully vague, no doubt to keep anticipation high, Hastings continued with the mysterious closer, "The fourth partner is a small company with which...we'll likely launch sooner than Q4."

Netflix ended 2007 on a fairly high note, with stable growth thanks to reduced competition from Blockbuster and closed out its fourth quarter looking toward the future of the video market.

Monday, the company posted continued progress in this year's first quarterly report, with an increase in subscribers and revenue, and a decrease in churn. The quarter ended just under a week after a 12-hour outage on its Web site caused a delay in shipments. Since Netflix released no information regarding how many orders were affected, an increase in churn in the next quarter could give a rough indication to the issue's severity.

Projections, however, for the upcoming quarter remain favorable. Netflix anticipates 300,000 new subscribers and and a $5 million increase in revenue to $399 million.

The company has even favorably adjusted its outlook for the whole year, increasing ending subscriptions from 9.1 to 9.7 million, up from 8.9 to 9.5 million, and revenue slightly from $1.345 to $1.385 billion to $1.35 to $1.39 billion.

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