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Netflix: Going the Wrong Way… Again.

16 Oct

Some may say that I don’t know too much, or that I’m not as versed in certain circles as some, but let me tell you, as a consumer, evangelist and entrepreneur in the realm of technology, I know bad decisions when I see them.

When Netflix decided that they were going to do away with the mail order DVDs as part of the streaming video package for one low, set price, my wife and I discontinued our membership immediately and have never returned. It was a bit heart-breaking, since it was actually a Christmas gift for my television adoring wife, but the writing was on the wall. The company didn’t realize what a great thing they had going. Sure, if we had to pay an extra buck or two to keep the service, that was just understandable, but no. Netflix discontinued that type of membership completely, without warning, without surveying its customer base, and without simply closing the gate behind existing customers. We knew at that moment that Netflix simply did not care about its customers. It was only concerned about its profit margin, its board and its investors. This mentality is why I left not one, but FOUR large technology corporations. When your focus is your bottom line, instead of how to practically manage an emerging technology to satisfy a larger market, you tend to lose sight of what direction your company needs to be headed. Eventually it turns into a self-defeating mess, dragging along your customers the whole way.

Fast forward to this week.

So I’m reading about how Netflix is cow-towing to its arch rival, the cable industry, in order to provide its streaming service on cable set-top boxes. If ever there was a time to perform a legendary face palm, this is it. Netflix is available on every major internet-based device: phones, computers, tablets, DVD players, Roku, etc. The cable industry has already been heading that direction for quite a long time. They provide many of the pipes that the internet that feeds these Netflix-based devices run on. They have DVR units that store hundreds of hours of recorded video. They stream their own pay-per-view shows, videos and movies. Why is the cable industry all giddy about this conglomeration? Because they can kill it. That’s right, you morons! Much like 100MB over the local electrical line with zero noise, the cable company can sweep Netflix under the rug like a starving dead tick by the time they are done with them. The cable industry doesn’t need Netflix. The cable industry already has the technology to do everything Netflix does.

What Netflix should have done instead was end-run the cable industry and do what every consumer and television fanatic in the continental forty-eight states has been begging them to do since the invention of MTV: Allow consumers to cherry pick what channels they want and have their content streamed to their homes in real time. Yeah, that’s right. Screw paying over $100 a month for dozens of channels that you don’t even watch! Instead, we’ll gladly pay $5 per month for the channels that we actually want to watch and screw the rest! Hell, if you’ve ever been across the country you’ll find that different systems carry different channels, some of which aren’t carried across the country. If Netflix set the stage to allow new networks (i.e. The Blaze TV is a great example) to hang a shingle as an add-on subscription, they could put cable television out of business! Couple that with a company that provides a more collaborative internet solution, and the giants fall. That’s innovation. That’s customer-driven success. That makes the competition stand up and notice. Not cow-towing. Not kneeling before the altar of cable.

So until Netflix and its leadership pull its head out of its collective ass, I am still completely against ever subscribing to such a backwards company for any service whatsoever. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.