I think it’s an idiotic strategy. Most of Netflix’s customers subscribe to both DVDs and streaming, and if they’re like me, they like the service because it enables both not-so-picky instant gratification and well-considered delayed gratification. I use the DVD service to select movies that I really want to watch and am willing to wait for; I use the streaming service when I want to watch something—and pretty much anything—right now. I can keep doing this after the DVD plan is renamed Qwikster, but it will require more work. If I search for a movie on Qwikster, it won’t tell me that the movie can be seen for free, right now, on Netflix. If I search for a movie on Netflix and don’t find it, it won’t let me add it to my DVD queue. Say I watch a bunch of DVDs starring Kevin Spacey and then give them all a one-star rating. (I can’t stand Kevin Spacey.) Because the two services will have separate ratings databases, Netflix might just recommend that I watch a Spacey marathon.
And yet: It could work. In The Innovator’s Dilemma, [Clayton] Christensen argues that the companies that are most vulnerable to disruptive technologies are those that have really good management. The problem with good managers is that they tend to listen to customers. And the problem with customers is that they don’t always know what’s best for them.
I mean, I get it, but I’m still going to miss being able to search for a DVD and seeing that, oh, you can get that movie (or, just as often, that entire television series) streaming right now. That was a bonus that I was happy to pay for.