I’m really starting to worry about Netflix. Yes, Qwikster was an awful name, but the idea that streaming is the future, DVDs are the past is the exact right one. Spinning that business off makes sense as it’s a sinking ship.
Sure, many current customers will bitch and moan at first. But that too will die over time. The customer is always right, except when they’re wrong.
But the bigger problem is Netflix’s waffling. This is the second time they’ve made a major decision, stated it, then gone back. I don’t care how strong the company is, this makes them seem weak and indecisive.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings first apologizes for a lack of communication, and then gives his thoughts about the recent price changes and separation of DVDs and streaming (which is still the right move, as Hastings reiterates).
The wording is good. Amazingly, it doesn’t sound like the total bullshit you usually read in such posts. But here’s my favorite part:
For the past five years, my greatest fear at Netflix has been that we wouldn’t make the leap from success in DVDs to success in streaming. Most companies that are great at something – like AOL dialup or Borders bookstores – do not become great at new things people want (streaming for us) because they are afraid to hurt their initial business.
When I read this, I have one larger thought than Hastings: Microsoft.
Why is legacy Windows and all its baggage a part of Windows 8? Because of Hastings’ last sentence above.
Eventually these companies realize their error of not focusing enough on the new thing, and then the company fights desperately and hopelessly to recover. Companies rarely die from moving too fast, and they frequently die from moving too slowly.
We see this time and time again. Complacency. These thoughts are nothing new. But what’s great is Netflix’s gumption to execute — stupid name or not.
Also great: Hastings is on Microsoft’s board. There is still hope.