A lot of customers have voted with their wallets since Netflix separated out the pricing for its streaming and its discs-by-mail services, but now in a totally unexpected move the company has decided to rebrand the DVD mail service as a separate entity called Qwikster.
Soon there will be a separate Qwikster.com website where you can access your discs by mail queue, while streaming will be accessed through the old Netflix.com site with no connection or synchronization between the two. You will also be billed separately for each service.
While Netflix says that the streaming service is expanding too quickly to maintain a connection with the DVD service, I am still utterly baffled by this move. As someone who continues to pay for both services, when I want to see a movie I usually look to see if it's available for streaming, and if not, I'll add it to my DVD queue. Now I'll have to do separate searches on the two websites, switching back and forth to see what the options are, and creating separate queues on each. Another problem is that your ratings and suggested titles lists will no longer translate across both services, weakening the accuracy of these features.
In the video below, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings offers a mea culpa admitting that he "messed up," but not because of the price increase, but simply for "failing to explain it clearly enough." As Seth and Amy on SNL's Weekend Update would say, "really?"
The one tiny sliver of a silver lining is that Qwikster will soon offer video game rentals in addition to movies, although as with their Blu-ray disc service, this will be an extra-cost option. Other than that, I can't see how the new changes benefit the customers in any way. On the contrary, with more movie companies opting out of the streaming service, it's starting to look like a good time to ditch the streaming option completely. I'm sure that's exactly what Netflix doesn't want to hear, although it should be music to the ears of the struggling U.S. Postal Service.
UPDATE: Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has taken to the Web to directly address some of the gripes following the Netflix/Qwikster split. In response to having two separate sites and how they'll talk to one another, Hastings said: "We think the separate websites (a link away from each other) will enable us to improve both faster than if they were single websites," adding that "at least when you start, your current rating and reviews will be in both." He also said that the "two 'sites' are a click between each other, so we think not that much different than two tabs on one site."
Update via Mashable