Flexplay: The Disposable DVD that Failed (Thankfully)

  • Published: 28 April 2019
  • You can support this channel on Patreon! Link below
    Have you ever run across a cool idea that you desperately hope doesn’t catch on? Flexplay is one of those. In this video, we’ll talk about what it is, why it was crazy to think it would go anywhere, and why it’s probably a good thing it didn’t.

    Did you know you can follow these links? It’s pretty neat. I heard about it on the Internet.

    Technology Connections on Twitter:

    The TC Subreddit

    Technology Connections 2 (the channel where I sometimes talk about stuff and generally don’t prepare for anything):

    You can support this channel on Patreon! It has been amazing what Patreon has done for this channel, but also for me (your dorky host) personally. Through the support of people just like you, Technology Connections has become my job and I am so excited and thankful for it! If you’d like to join the fine folks in a pledge to help the channel grow, please check out my Patreon page. Thank you for your consideration!

    And thank you to the following Patrons!

    Phillip Cosgrove, Joshua Doades, Ennex The Fox, Steve Kralik, Your name, Kirill Polstainen, Felix Winkelnkemper, Christopher Lawhead, BoostCookie, 98abaile, Rennix, Charles, Sebastian Sparrer, Andreas Kuzma, Paul Moffat, Max, Ryan Benson, Neil Forker, Vincent Beelte, James Pinakis, Johnni Winther, Mark Hesse, Nathan Blubaugh, Andre van Soest, lululombard, Armando Fox, Nelson, Kajico, Angelo van der Sijpt, William Evans, Philip, VilleS, Anton Afanasev, Kilrah, Ray, Liam O'Flynn, Oliver Lee, Lennart Sorensen, Mitch Radoll, Will Wren, Viorel, Reaghan Kekeis, lohphat, Vivian Pypher, Brandon Whiting, Peter Stewart, Patrick Barry, Robin Johnsen, Nomad, Eric, Phia Westfall, Mats Svardal, Jeremey Hastings, Mark Wayt, Matthew Reynolds, Dave Howlett, Arthur Robillard, Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog, Lee Tustain, Lauren Hahn, kalleboo, Marcel de Jong, Vaughn B., Braden McDorman, Stephen Bank, Julien Oster, Dr. Bjoern Bieber, Anders Enger Jensen, Juan Molinari, Jake Hickman, Trae Palmer, Gary Hampson, Lennart Rosam, Chris Wallace, Matt Shea, Jason Baker, PJ Gunasekera, Adisibio, Michael Holmes, Trey Harris, Peter Pfundstein, Wilhelm Screamer, Mat Stu, RYAN NGOGLIA, Charlycobra, Thomas Kolanus, William Kisley, Daniel Johnson, Potch, Reemt Rühmkorf, Jack Nichol, Robin Rattay, Bruce Justyn, Rae McIntosh, Justin D, Adam Zawisza, LordJakson, Triancia, Max Barnash, Microfrost, MrSonicOSG, Sinirlan, rusty shakelford, Mitch Schenk, Juan Olivares, Mike Bird, Emmett Ray, Michael Shaffer, Steve Trambert, Sputnik, Jason Spriggs, Danny S., Gregory Kumpula, Chris Zaremba, Tom Burns, Daniel Pf, Yung Kim, John W Campbell, Matthew Jones, Slappy826, Steven Ingles, Robert Howcroft, Troy King, Some Random, Peter Sarossy, Leigh Beattie, Tracy Cogsdill, Matt Allaire, Dave Mausner, Guy, John Hickey, Benjamin Gott, Luke, Rayne Luna, Zach Le, Fredrik Østrem, Greg Hodgdon, Anil Dash, Michael Wileczka, Chris Wolf, John Ehler, William Matthews, Fred Leckie, Julian Zielke, John Rogers, Kenneth Morenz, Andy, Greg Stearns, Linus Eustace, Zack, Robert L LaBelle, Chris Satterfield (Compgeke), Brian Johnson, Jon Hay, Hyunseung Park, Cameron Benton, Samuli Suomi, Keith McCready, Jeffrey Glover, John Marshall, Hsin-Kuei Chen, Henry Desai, Damian, David Anez, Josiah Keller, M T Bono, Conall Ó Maitiú, Struan Clark, Keeb, Tarrien, Manuel Zeschko, Biking With Panda, Chris Larsen, David Pechon, Michael Romero, Jonathon Mah, Jonathan Polirer, Derek Nickel, Marc Versailles, Ian Pirner, Mark Stone, Adelaide Leslie Baker, Arthur Zalevsky, John Fruetel, Jonathan Mayfield, Adam Veneziano, Andrew Diamond, Cole Campbell, Christopher Beattie, Paul Bryan, Samuel Kirzner, Gus Polly, a ray, Daniel Pritchard, Brandon Tomlinson, Eric Loewenthal, Sebastian Stenner, Leftie, Jeremy Samuels, Malcolm Miles, Matthew Lloyd, David L Jones, Matthew Burket, Mike Burns, Andrew Roland, Luke Whiting, John Cockerill, Smith8154, David Groover, Michael Wehner, Rainbow Warrior, jacob kamphaus, Alex Hurley, Andrew Bobulsky, Jennifer Briggs, Peter Beckman, Matthew R, Richard Sams, Andy Kettu, On Ice Perspectives, Brian Wright, TheGreatCO, Sam Lowry, Marcus, Ethan R, Petteri Hjort, Daniel DeLage, Nathan Obuchowski, Sam Tran, Shaun Puzon, Bret Holmes, Vlycop, Alexandra Stanovska, Tom Ebenhoe, Casey Blackburn

    Pst! If you haven’t seen your name here, don’t worry quite yet! The Patron list is in a state of transition and you might be appearing somewhere else, shortly!
  • Science and Technology Science and Technology

Comments • 5 394

  • Technology Connections
    Technology Connections   4 months back

    I mentioned the tragedy of the commons a couple of times in this video. This is an old but (in my opinion) underutilized term for the concept of what happens when shared resources are used by individuals acting in their own best interest. Although the term is flawed and some situations are far more complex than can be explained in four easy words, it’s a useful reminder that things that seem harmless on an individual level can scale in ways we can’t grasp. If you’d like to learn a little more about this concept, check out this website I found; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_commons

    • Roger Theil
      Roger Theil  1 weeks back

      I just want to know if it turned black

    • GhostShipSupreme
      GhostShipSupreme  3 weeks back

      Did the disc turn black or not?

    • Integer0verload
      Integer0verload  4 weeks back

      Thing I hate and disagree with. Example I purchase the beta of Rocky 1 in 1983. I should own the copyright viewing rights for this movie. But they screw you so then you need to buy on vhs, DVD, blueray, Amazon. But you own the copyright from original beta so you should only have to pay for the cost of the new media and not the copyright. It's wrong and cheats the consumer. If you are so inclined it should be perfectly legal to borrow your friends DVD and copy because you already own the copyright from the beta purchase originally.

    • Integer0verload
      Integer0verload  4 weeks back

      Is it possible to copy these discs with dvd-r? I imagine a of would have a better chance of reading it.

    • Andrew Hanson
      Andrew Hanson  1 months back

      Did it turn black?

  • H12
    H12  17 hours back

    this story sounds just like your average crowdfunding project

    • Milk and Duck gaming
      Milk and Duck gaming  2 days back

      throwaway society

      • None of your Business
        None of your Business  3 days back

        DivX was not a failure. Commercially, maybe so. But it was the flagship of movie piracy in the early 2000s. No other codec was able to hold a candle to DivX's market domination.
        Oh hang on, you're talking... what the frog is "DIVX"?? I have never even _heard_ of such a stupid idea. No wonder people keep talking about "div ex" being a complete failure. Thanks for clearing that up.

        • archona54
          archona54  4 days back

          Dude....like your vids.....Keep making them

          • WellBeSerious12
            WellBeSerious12  4 days back

            Good video. Hope it's not self-destructive!

            • Matt Tan
              Matt Tan  4 days back

              It looks like a pretty good idea, it could've been pretty successful

              • Xenon Dominate
                Xenon Dominate  5 days back

                Found a pile of these at a garage sale last month.

                • Andy production
                  Andy production  6 days back

                  Imagine flexing so hard you broke your own business

                  • Nekolalia
                    Nekolalia  6 days back

                    I can see an application for this type of data storage, and it's not an easy one to contemplate. However, there'd have to be a method of burning the data onto it in a non-mass production sense.

                    I remember talking to someone about the legal profession, and how a mate of theirs was on a certain type of task force. There were images that he had to look at as part of his job, and he'd asked for them to be on CD instead of emailed to him so he could hand them in to be destroyed the instant the relevant cases were over...otherwise he'd be committing a crime by keeping them in his possession.

                    Yeah. I said it wasn't easy to contemplate.

                    If it had a slightly longer life (because I wouldn't want to have to peruse evidence in a small span of two days even regardless of content) that would be even better, but as long as its decay is assured it could be used for all kinds of sensitive data.

                    The entertainment industry - at least the official products of it - does not in any way qualify, and hitching onto that post as if it was the only one was silly.

                    • parthasarathy Venkatadri

                      What if i used a air tight enclosure to house the DVD player and put the disc with the case inside the enclosure vaccumed it and then opened it using a robotic self loading mechanism .. you could have the disc play for every .... Muhhahahah That was my Evil plan back in the day ....

                      • PickelJars ForHillary
                        PickelJars ForHillary  6 days back

                        I recycle old CD/DVD by using them as targets at the range.

                        • Sam Haas
                          Sam Haas  6 days back

                          This is up there with those AOL discs in terms of immense wasteful plastic

                          • Sasszem
                            Sasszem  7 days back

                            I found a case not covered by the patent!
                            I pack a nail and a midget along with the DVD. After two days, the midget uses the nail to scratch the disk.
                            I'm gonna be rich!

                            • The Lets Play-ers
                              The Lets Play-ers  1 weeks back

                              Idk bout you but i love listening to Technotrash

                              • TRX VLOGGER
                                TRX VLOGGER  1 weeks back

                                this kid annoys me

                                • Dave Gage
                                  Dave Gage  1 weeks back

                                  5:25 Fuck yeah THPS2. Truly a man of culture.

                                  • xXthat one Gamer girlXx

                                    I was thinking more of a explosion and a cracked disc but okay

                                    • Kishi-Chan
                                      Kishi-Chan  1 weeks back

                                      FlexPlay!!!! I sawed this CD in half!!! Thats a hole lotta damage!!!

                                      • SuperCookieGaming
                                        SuperCookieGaming  1 weeks back

                                        netflix mail service could have used it. so you don’t have to mail it back

                                        • piworower
                                          piworower  1 weeks back


                                          • Lance Pelissier
                                            Lance Pelissier  1 weeks back

                                            Blockbuster was also why Divx and Flexplay failed.

                                            • Holden Green
                                              Holden Green  1 weeks back

                                              Why not PLA? (Polylactic Acid)

                                              • flugelblarghen
                                                flugelblarghen  1 weeks back

                                                Flexplay disc destroys itself "That's a lot of DAMAGE"

                                                • FlipnotePikachu
                                                  FlipnotePikachu  1 weeks back

                                                  Your videos are so informative with great sense of humor! 😂😂😂

                                                  • Stuit3rb4l
                                                    Stuit3rb4l  1 weeks back

                                                    Since when is it cool to wear a 25 year old T-shirt under a suit? Oh I forgot these are the End-times...

                                                    • Patrik
                                                      Patrik  1 weeks back

                                                      Anyone else immensely enjoying the bloopers?

                                                      • Lurid Phaesporia
                                                        Lurid Phaesporia  1 weeks back

                                                        Ominous hint about Disney, Yikes!

                                                        • rocbolt
                                                          rocbolt  1 weeks back

                                                          Growing up my local grocery store actually had their own VHS rental service (was a King Soopers/Kroger). It was a little glassed off area within the store, they shared a counter with the film developing service. They had a fair amount of shelves and a solid selection. Almost never went to a blockbuster as we were always at the grocery anyway, also I believe they were a buck or two cheaper to boot. I probably still have some posters and banners from there that they would give away after they were done with them. That was there at least to 2000 or so, I seem to remember them having early DVDs as well. Not long till Redbox showed up, VHS faded away, and film developing disappeared.

                                                          • Alex G.
                                                            Alex G.  2 weeks back

                                                            Couldn't you just burn it on another DVD with a pc?

                                                            • Master of the Universe
                                                              Master of the Universe  2 weeks back

                                                              Environmentalists should be all sentenced to death by fire.

                                                              • Felipe Ornelas
                                                                Felipe Ornelas  1 weeks back

                                                                Nah. They should be thrown in the deep jungle. They will learn a really important lesson, so if they menage to survive they will probably be saved.

                                                            • Arthur de Castro Silva
                                                              Arthur de Castro Silva  2 weeks back

                                                              Imagine if a movie was released exclusively trough this thing. Perhaps in this scenario, Flexplay would have lasted longer, since it would have things that no other has (similar to console exclusive titles). Now imagine a piracy scene centered around those titles: any piracy group/individual would have only X hours to "crack" the thing, recreating the nice competition that the warez scene was about in the past - and it would feel like a "game jam" xD

                                                              • cadyn glasgow
                                                                cadyn glasgow  2 weeks back

                                                                Welcome to mission impossible where our recordings self-destruct

                                                                (I can't be the only one who thought of this)

                                                                • Wheels Lifts
                                                                  Wheels Lifts  2 weeks back

                                                                  I dont understand how stupid environmentalists can be. Yes, the disk might not be recycled.. but driving back and forth to blockbuster would be ok?

                                                                  • Zhi Han Lee
                                                                    Zhi Han Lee  6 days back

                                                                    Reminds me of when my mother would rather return our borrowed library book late (when she was out at work & thus the library would be on her way) & pay the fine as she said it cost less than the petrol needed to drive to the library (to return the book when it was due, which was usually on a day she didn't otherwise need to be out)

                                                                • Birds Angry
                                                                  Birds Angry  2 weeks back

                                                                  Flexplay DVD: gets opened
                                                                  also Flexplay DVD: "Gentlemen, synchronize your death watches."

                                                                  • Dashyr89
                                                                    Dashyr89  2 weeks back

                                                                    Discs with a shelf life? Pre-download publishers wet dream.

                                                                    • Matt horse Irons
                                                                      Matt horse Irons  2 weeks back

                                                                      RIP DVDs

                                                                      • Evilmike42
                                                                        Evilmike42  2 weeks back

                                                                        I used one of these once while I was driving a truck over the road. Worked great and yes, in about 2 days it became useless.

                                                                        The movie was Beowulf (the CGI version), btw.

                                                                        • Johan Johansson
                                                                          Johan Johansson  2 weeks back

                                                                          To reuse dics disschard by rip disc så is empty like conscipt lik one disket to dos

                                                                          • OklahomaBorn1970
                                                                            OklahomaBorn1970  2 weeks back

                                                                            I remember the scene in Back to the future 2 when they were in the alley and bales of laser discs were stacked against the back of the building. I guess they were foretelling a future that was not meant to happen with the next things being digital and streaming. Yes I know they purposely had flying cars so as not to appear to be trying to predict the future.

                                                                            • TJ Marx
                                                                              TJ Marx  2 weeks back

                                                                              Why do I need to take the disc back to the store when the recycle bin the local council has provided since the 90s accepts optical discs for recycling? I can just put it in the bin at home and there is no convenience nor environmental penalty.

                                                                              Online video was starting to take off in a big way in 2005, Google didn't try to compete with streaming video start-up YouTube, lose to them then buy them out for some stupid amount of money in 2006 for nothing.

                                                                              Netflix at this same time was already offering to stream those movies you wanted to rent to you instead of sending you the disc, and even offered your subscription cheaper if you wanted streaming only.

                                                                              The Xbox 360, launched originally in 2005 allowed owners to rent and stream movies directly from the console and the predecessor to Ultra Violet also came out around this time allowing you to rent a digital time limited copy of a movie directly from the studio.

                                                                              It should then be no surprise that 2 years later when Flexplay tried to relaunch themselves in 2008 they failed. The industry had moved on, optical discs were going away from the mainstream and the business traveller who for some reason wasn't using in room hotel rentals probably was trendy enough to be on streaming video.

                                                                              If Flexplay had released in 1999 we would have seen a completely different future for the company. It wasn't environmentalism that made them fail, they were just too late to the party.

                                                                              • bluelightnight
                                                                                bluelightnight  2 weeks back

                                                                                thank you for covering this. I remembered this vaguely from when I was much younger. But when I search YouTube for information on this very subject I found only one video made I think almost a decade ago. An interesting note is that nearly all the discs the person had Bots to make the video hand turn black. But, one of his computer DVD drives could read them or at least get through half of one of the movies, I think.

                                                                                I like your point about buying disc is only buying the license. That's what they use to shutdown Cleanflix, the first company that sold edited movies to remove explicit content. They had a business practice of legitimately buying a copy of a movie for every edited movie they sold. One can only imagine the amount of E-Waste generated. There is an interesting documentary made about this entire thing. In court they trying to make the argument that movies are regularly edited when they are showed on non premium cable channels, airplane flights, and in prisons. And they could never get a straight answer as to why individual consumers we're being denied privately owning aforementioned edited versions of those movies. Yet if their lawyers had been competent they would have known the exact point you just made. Those companies that show edited versions had bought the licenses to show those specific editions of the movie Studios that own them.

                                                                                An interesting fact is though cleanflicks was shut down many ago, upon Googling the topic to verify the original company's name there currently there are many companies that are for the same service.

                                                                                • GhostShipSupreme
                                                                                  GhostShipSupreme  3 weeks back

                                                                                  That red back makes me think of PS2 discs!

                                                                                  • William Reeves
                                                                                    William Reeves  3 weeks back

                                                                                    In retrospect, they could have just included a pre-paid envelope in the package so all you had to do was stick it in and drop it in the nearest mailbox. But, as you say, if you're going to do that why not just do Netflix?

                                                                                    That said, if you're a long-haul trucker that sleeps in his truck. You might have a DVD player, but no internet or permanent address on the road. This sort of rental system might be right up your alley. You could grab one of these at the truck stop, watch it when you want, then chuck it in the mail when you get wherever you are going. No Netflix subscription or mailing address required. As so many things in airports and truck stops are ... it is a pure convenience that is mostly exclusive to life on the road. Definitely a niche product, but it might have worked under specific circumstances. But then, as you mentioned, Redbox happened.

                                                                                    • Glitch Walker
                                                                                      Glitch Walker  3 weeks back

                                                                                      Also, I think the advantage of streaming services is that a company could commit to only using renewable energy resources to power their services; they could also commit to either redeploying older technology in different roles, or trying to reach a 100% recycling loop of their own products, and only buying newer technology manufactured from these recycled goods.

                                                                                      In contrast, DVDs/VHS etc can eventually suffer from becoming obsolete. Meaning more energy and resources are wasted on updating the products each generation.

                                                                                      • Glitch Walker
                                                                                        Glitch Walker  3 weeks back

                                                                                        This isn't an entirely dumb idea when you consider the existence of something like the Famicon Disk System; a rewritable game disk where you could change the game on the disk for a fee less than buying a game outright. Although you still own the game forever, until you update it anyway.

                                                                                        • Robert
                                                                                          Robert  3 weeks back

                                                                                          The hard drives sucking the power up can be shut down, leaving no waste to speak of or clean up afterwards. The dvd's in the land fill will be there for 50 years. Look at diapers. I bet your diapers are still in a land fill somewhere...

                                                                                          • Sedat Mehmed
                                                                                            Sedat Mehmed  3 weeks back

                                                                                            I think the only problem was the high price. 5 usd for 48 hour rent is a lot compared to 10 bucks for owning the movie. Recycling is not that much of a problem - the idea was you can buy the flexdisc in a hardware or grocery store where you go regularly for other things too so you can periodically take used discs with you and throw them in a trash can in the store. But paying half the price of a full licence just to watch it 1-2 times is a bit high