Well, that was certainty interesting. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings announced today that Qwikster, the proposed DVD-delivery offshoot of Netflix, is no longer.
In a statement emailed to subscribers, Hastings begins with: “It is clear that for many of our members two websites would make things more difficult, so we are going to keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs.”
There are a few lessons to be learned from this, however. For one thing, Hastings and Netflix have finally understood that simple is always best. The reason for the power of simplicity is because complexity adds barriers to use and adoption. It’s the reason why, for example, some of the most used websites, such as Facebook, are simple and easy to use – and why Facebook users got angry when Facebook overcomplicated matters.
The other lesson is that Netflix is struggling to maintain its market leadership because its brand has been based strictly on a process, rather than an emotional connection. So, when the process got confusing, the brand got rejected.
The market in which Netflix competes is becoming more and more competitive as competitors copy Netflix’s process. Blockbuster, once dead, will be resurrected by DirecTV in a model that copies Netflix. Rumors are also growing that this is an area in which Apple wants to gain a stronger foothold and may also copy Netflix’s process through Apple TV to do it.
Netflix triggered this Netflix/Qwikster model after customers complained of price hikes. Netflix failed to see that it could offer separate plans under one brand and one website until now. (Though, the brand guy in me was very interested in what Qwikster was going to look like.)
Give it up to Netflix for realizing its mistake and landing where it should. Now, it needs to take the next step in becoming emotionally important to customers so that, when mistakes are made, they are forgotten or forgiven, and any equity it has lost during this latest fiasco can be overcome.