VC’s, entrepreneurs and the rest of the technorati are debating the move’s strategic merits all over the interwebs. Customers who use both services are (rightfully) flipping out about having to visit two websites and manage two queues.
And us? We’re cautiously optimistic.
It’s hard to launch a new brand, but when you have 14 million subscribers already, when you have the visibility of Netflix and when you transition intelligently (note the ‘a Netflix Company’ endorsement line) it’s a lot easier.
And, this is a good name and a decent identity. It’s easy to pronounce, communicates a relevant value proposition and the design is friendly and inoffensive. But it might help if CEO Reed Hastings got 100% behind it, rather than writing “I know that logo will grow on me over time…”
That said, let’s face it, Mr. Hasting’s hesitancy to embrace the new brand is because the creation of the new brand isn’t about growing the DVD-by-mail business. It’s about protecting the Netflix business. Was there ever a clearer sign a company wasn’t going to focus on a product or service than spinning it off? And please, spare us the “opportunity to focus on what it does best” line. Qwikster is Netflix’s red-headed stepchild, plain and simple. The company has made a bet that streaming is a star and DVD’s by mail are a cash-cow, soon to become a dog (especially as it gets harder and harder to actually get the mail delivered).
Of course, the customer backlash will sting. So will the cancelled subscriptions (although some of those high-minded folks will come back). And both the Netflix and Qwikster brands hinge much more on the success of the products and services they provide than they do on the attractiveness of their names and logos.
But if Netflix gets streaming right and delivers consistent service to Qwikster subscribers, most customers will be happy, more studios will make more titles available online, the market will reward shareholders lavishly and only the people with AOL dial-up service will be left to reminisce over the days when you could get a real-live (possibly scratched) DVD and watch a movie you thought you wanted to see 3-4 days earlier.