Have you heard the expression “shooting yourself in the foot?” It means doing something that makes you look stupid. Usually, you only shoot yourself in the foot once. Netflix is trying to empty an entire clip.
First it infuriated customers by raising rates and separated its streaming video and DVD rental services. Then it apologized, but didn’t lower rates. Now, after renaming its DVD service Qwikster (ridiculous because DVD rental through the U.S. Mail is slower than streaming), it is apologizing again, saying in an email to all its customers: “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. This means…in other words, no Qwikster.” What about the prices? “While the July price change was necessary,” the email continued, “we are now done with price changes.” Really? Forever? Or just until the next apology?
I can understand Netflix management looking into the future and seeing the end of movies on disk, and wanting to do something about it now. But they flipped the calendar ahead 20 years – and forgot about tomorrow morning. Now they’ve got a PR hangover that even a couple of DVD-sized Alka-Seltzers won’t relieve.
Their only hope is to run out of bullets.