The End of Netflix

| Mon Sep. 19, 2011 12:18 PM EDT

I got a personal email from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings this morning:

Dear Kevin,

I messed up. I owe you an explanation.

It is clear from the feedback over the past two months that many members felt we lacked respect and humility in the way we announced the separation of DVD and streaming and the price changes. That was certainly not our intent, and I offer my sincere apology. Let me explain what we are doing.

Well, OK, this wasn't really an email sent just to me. It was sent to me and several million other pissed off Netflix customers. Still, it's nice that Hastings knows we're pissed-off and wants to explain things. So here's the explanation:

It’s hard to write this after over 10 years of mailing DVDs with pride, but we think it is necessary: In a few weeks, we will rename our DVD by mail service to “Qwikster”. We chose the name Qwikster because it refers to quick delivery. We will keep the name “Netflix” for streaming.

Huh? Unlike many internet denizens, I wasn't especially cheesed off when I read this. I was just — bemused. Why should I care if they're changing the name of their DVD service? Why should anyone care? And in what way is this an explanation for a big price increase? This is like breaking your neighbor's window and then "explaining" that tomorrow you're planning to take a trip to the zoo. The two things just don't have anything to do with each other.

Meh. Hastings should have saved his virtual postage. More here, if you're interested. My take is that this is the beginning of the end for the DVD service, no matter what Hastings says. He doesn't want the Netflix brand ruined by the plummeting customer satisfaction that's going to follow the almost certain service and selection downgrades on Qwikster once the smoke has cleared. Oh well. Nothing lasts forever. But with Blockbuster gone, Redbox mostly limited to newer releases, and streaming services offering only a tiny selection, where am I going to go if I want to watch some movie made more than a decade ago? I guess I'll just wait for them to show up on cable until the content providers figure out what to do.

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