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Netflix: Evolution + Poor Communication + Arrogance + Entitlement = Sad

Media evolves. This is fact. Often, there is one company who draws a line in the sand and forces America to shake off the old and embrace the new. This is not easy and many more companies fail at this than those who succeed. I will concede this one point to Hastings from his open post to members. AOL, Real, Classmates, Starbucks Hear Music (personally a sad one for me), IBM, Amway (oh wait, they’re Quixtar now … even worse than Netflix’s Quickster name ), dare I say GM, and yes hundreds of other businesses have fallen on their faces because they chose to (in the spirit of making movie references) hold the line one moment longer than Mel Gibson would have in Braveheart or jumped too early. Hell, even the mothership took a detour for a stint before getting Steve Jobs back on board to point them in the right direction. They could be going off to … ahem … a galaxy far far away for all we know with his recent decision to step down. But I digress, this is about Netflix, not the primordial soup of mutated, deceased, thriving or soon to be consumed companies around them.

Netflix, you’ve had something that very few companies have and all companies dream of … a loyal following who love being your marketing arm. I’d even go so far as to say they’re evangelists for your cause. We love movies. We love convenience. We loved Netflix.

So lets get down to the nitty gritty for a quick second here, shall we? This more or less shakes down to a few things: evolution of media, arrogance, poor communication, and entitlement. Like I said before, media evolves. When I was at Starbucks we fought to create a CD burning kiosk that was on the downward slope of the CD industry. It was great technology, worked seamlessly, etc, but iTunes Music Store killed the business model. The Concorde met the same fate due to video chat, email, higher gas prices and a more connected world. Technology dies so that new technology can live. [ can you hear Elton John's Circle of Life now? ] There is a natural order to this, one that requires the public to be generally ok with having things change. When change is imposed and the waters are overly disturbed … bad things happen. Nothing is clearer than seeing more than twenty three thousand comments to a post about this imposed change. Which brings us to arrogance. You have a business model that has some secret sauce the layperson isn’t privy to. Fine, that’s why we all don’t have our own Netflix companies. We can’t always know what you have up your sleeve (clearly), but we have grown accustomed to a standard display of reciprocal trust. We pay you for movies we love. You provide a service for said movies … be it physical media or streaming. This has gone really well for some time now. You grossly underestimated the public’s temperature when it came to digital vs physical media. This saddens me for a number of reasons; the largest being that we loved you and you didn’t listen. Girly, I know, but hey, I’m that dude in that role for this instance. A ton of us were ok with the price hike, not all, but we backed you up. We’re getting more now than we were before and we rationalized paying for it. But this? This shows you really don’t know your customers at all … and furthermore, that we don’t really know you Netflix. [ insert scene in movie where the jilted lover sends a friend to go get their DVDs back from his ex's house ] I’m ok with shelling out a few extra bucks for a service that works seamlessly across the board. As far as the frustration of having two accounts, or two payments, or two queues, or any of that crap … I’m going to let Bryan Thompson say it, because he said it best:

This is great news! My dentist just did the same thing. It’s so much better. Now when I have cavities on my top row of teeth I go to one dentist, and when I have cavities on the bottom row, I go to the other dentist across town. Sure it’s frustrating that sometimes they can’t access my dental records that used to all be in one place, and yes I admit that it seems strange that they now charge me almost twice as much for the exact same dental care I received six months ago…but they are innovators! Besides, what choice do I have? They’re the only two dentists around. Well done Netflix! If it ain’t broke then don’t fix it. Simply hike the price, alienate your customer base and complicate your user interface under the guise of “progress”. Kudos.

Your arrogance shows a one sided approach and poor business understanding. Your customers make your business. Now when they see a red envelope, they see red. We will not just perpetually take your antics with a spoonful of sugar to help this “medicine” go down. However, moving on to entitlement, we really don’t have any say as to what you want to do with your business. This is the hardest part and likely where my metaphors will start getting really mixed up. [ queue sappy music where the guy realizes that she needs to be free, remixed with a soundtrack for a baby walking for the first time and that scene where Scar kills Mufasa in the wildebeest stampede ] You need to sow your seeds apparently. You’re young and na├»ve. You’re going to fall on your face. I am your father… [ man the wheels are falling off ... wrap it up, wrap it up ] We feel entitled to this service, but we aren’t. We just pay for it. It’s a give/take relationship and you can choose to exit it on your own accord. Which it seems like, for some reason or another, you’re choosing to do. We’ll be pissed. We’ll eat chocolate cake and cry a tear or two as we sit in front of our VHS player we found in the garage or Hulu Plus. But we’ll always remember the good times where we all got along.

We await your next move Netflix. Like a magician, had better be a good prestige or I fear you’ll watch your theatre clear faster than if someone yelled “fire.” Don’t screw this next step up Netflix. [ queue Inception massive horn sound or crickets ... it can be your movie too ]

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