The plan to split Netflix into Netflix (streaming) and Qwikster (DVD) never made sense to me. Now Netflix is turning back the clock and keeping them together. The text string 'Qwikster' will be returning to deserved obscurity.
This at least shows that Netflix can understand whacks on the nose.
But what has struck me throughout this odd episode is their misunderstanding of what their own customers like about the service.
Making customers split their queue management into two separate websites which don't integrate with each other was a really really bad plan (with -- notice -- no actual reason given for it), and I can imagine lots of heated arguments in-house from the people who could tell it was a deeply stupid move. Tip for the head office: keep a list of those people and consult them the next time you get a really 'bright' idea.
The most foreboding aspect (for anyone wishing Netflix any success, that is) is the continued dimness and/or pridefulness of the executives. The juicy quotes in the New York Times report on the policy reversal do not inspire confidence:
"We underestimated the appeal of the single Web site and a single service," Steve Swasey, a Netflix spokesman, said in an interview, before quickly adding: "We greatly underestimated it."
Ok, so far so good. They have understood their basic error. But wait.. Reed Hastings doesn't agree with his own spokesman:
"there is a difference between moving quickly -- which Netflix has done very well for years -- and moving too fast, which is what we did in this case."
Replace 'moving too fast' with 'moving in the wrong direction' and you've sold me.
'Moving too fast' just tells me you really want to try this again in a year or two. And that means you do not understand your basic error.
We are still customers for now (and switching to streaming-only), but we'll be keeping an eye out for further drug trips and policy freakouts from the Netflix head office.