Don't look now, but Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX ) just pulled a page out of the Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) playbook. Specifically, the movie maven is copying a move that paved the way for Android phones to invade the smartphone market en masse. It's a proven icebreaker between service companies and lethargic consumers, and it's all about convenience.
Just as Google started putting Google-branded search buttons on semi-smartphones from Motorola (NYSE: MOT ) and others back in 2006, Netflix is sticking big, red Netflix buttons on remote controls for just about every piece of video-handling electronics you'd care to name. The idea is to make it super-simple to access Netflix on your favorite gadget, cutting out the usual maze of menus and thumb-tiring multiple clicks. The simpler the service, the more people will use it out of sheer convenience.
Where Netflix is one-upping its role model is in the breadth of the offering. Google landed a tiny handful of deals, which helped the company build mobile partnerships ahead of the Android invasion it was cooking up at the time. Netflix gets these buttons on remotes for Blu-ray players, connected TV sets, and some media-hub set-top boxes from a murderer's row of brand-name manufacturers. Sony (NYSE: SNE ) and Samsung are in, as are Sharp, Panasonic (NYSE: PC ) , and Toshiba. There are Chinese electronics firms on the list, and in-house brands from major store chains.
The only major brands I didn't see in the Netflix announcement were low-cost leader Vizio and European giant Philips (NYSE: PHG ) , but then again the firm only said that the participants "included" the Riot Act of big names -- which could mean that these missing names also are playing along.
This will put the Netflix brand front and center, right in the face of consumers who have somehow managed to miss out on the digital TV trend altogether. Link this with an easily accessible free-trial promotion, perhaps available right on your new TV screen in a few clicks of the remote, and I think we have a serious growth booster on our hands.
Make sure to send a fruit basket to Mountain View for the idea, Netflix. Great minds apparently do think alike.