Netflix backs out of the dead end road


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.


you've suggested that other vendors learn from Amazon's lingering shopping carts; I think that these bozos should learn from the power of the Wish List, which is what their queues become. I want to decide on a film/TVshow/whatever and then it just comes (via DVD in a day, or streaming in 20 minutes), not have to consult two lists and then cross-reference my needs with the forms of delivery, etc. heck, I use my Amazon list to keep track of books I intend to get from the library, but it's still all in one place and brings me back to Amazon (where I might throw a couple of things into my cart just to get free shipping)...

I understand that licensing woes are forcing them to develop two forms of service, but that's no reason to undercut the monopoly identification that they've already built up... sigh.

Agree that the messaging is terribly confusing and not inspiring confidence.

I continue to be surprised by the number of people who are switching to streaming only. The picture quality I've been getting is not acceptable for dedicated watching. It is VHS quality at best. I only end up using it when I want something on while I work. So with the recent changes, I'm switching to DVD-only, and I'm surprised that more aren't doing that, at least in the short term.

Eric, I think it may just be a difference in the quality of our internet connections.

We got FiOS a while back (cheapest tier) and our Roku and AppleTV can get us HD-quality TV from Netflix without much in the way of delays/waiting.

If that weren't true, I could totally see foregoing the streaming.

From what I understand, this was purely a business decision. Netflix was forseeing the demise of DVD usage and planning in such a way to be able to (at some future date) remove it from the business model by simply pruning Qwikster from the Netflix tree. This decision had NOTHING to do with customer service, hence the backlash. What should have happened was to do the preparations on the back-end without interfering with the customer's experience. No disruption of the customer's happy little world, no public outcry.

I would present to the court the example of Blockbuster, who still rent out VHS tapes. Nearly everyone can agree that VHS is going the way of the Dodo. I'm not even sure where to buy a VCR anymore. Netflix was merely WAAAAAY premature (and not very transparent) in their planning for the death of DVD.

Also, their solution sucked.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steve Bogart published on October 10, 2011 11:45 PM.

Where My Interests Lie, 2011 edition was the previous entry in this blog.

Juicy links; Sad news is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.