We feel for Netflix. We do, we really do. It's hard to put ourselves in the company's shoes, but from where we're sitting it looks like the company is on a firm mission to annoy as many of its customers as possible.
On the heels pf a 60% price hike that the company tried to pass off as a discount and a resulting 15% stock drop, the company yesterday announced that it would be spinning off its DVD-rental business into a new site, called ... Qwikster:
Qwikster will be the same website and DVD service that everyone is used to. It is just a new name, and DVD members will go to qwikster.com to access their DVD queues and choose movies. One improvement we will make at launch is to add a video games upgrade option, similar to our upgrade option for Blu-ray, for those who want to rent Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360 games. Members have been asking for video games for many years, and now that DVD by mail has its own team, we are finally getting it done. Other improvements will follow. Another advantage of separate websites is simplicity for our members. Each website will be focused on just one thing (DVDs or streaming) and will be even easier to use. A negative of the renaming and separation is that the Qwikster.com and Netflix.com websites will not be integrated. So if you subscribe to both services, and if you need to change your credit card or email address, you would need to do it in two places. Similarly, if you rate or review a movie on Qwikster, it doesn’t show up on Netflix, and vice-versa.
So, instead of one web site that was simple and easy to use, we now have two web sites that will be harder to use. Got it.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings explains that the change is because the company "realized that streaming and DVD by mail are becoming two quite different businesses, with very different cost structures, different benefits that need to be marketed differently," but does anyone believe that? We're thinking it's increasingly likely that Netflix really doesn't want to be a DVD-by-mail company anymore and is looking at ways to kill off that business and its attendant overhead without anyone really noticing. But if that's the case, why have they been so neglectful in keeping up their streaming licenses? (We were just getting into "Veronica Mars," dangit!)
(Finally, if you're wondering why this company of all companies gets such an uproar every time it does anything, well, we don't know what to tell you. It's probably because Netflix is a product you invite into your home, and people feel more protective of their experience with the company because of it. People do not like change, generally.)
(Also, Qwikster is a dumb name.)
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